How to Build a Super Vocabulary

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					    Wiley Keys to Success

     Beverly Ann Chin, Ph.D.
        Series Consultant

     John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    Wiley Keys to Success

Beverly Ann Chin is Professor of English, Director of the English
Teaching Program, former Director of the Montana Writing Project, and
a former President of the National Council of Teachers of English.
    Dr. Chin is a nationally recognized leader in English language arts
standards, curriculum instruction, and assessment. Many schools and
states call upon her to help them develop programs in reading and writ-
ing across the curriculum. Dr. Chin has edited and written numerous
books and articles in the field of English language arts. She is the
author of On Your Own: Writing and On Your Own: Grammar.
    Wiley Keys to Success

     Beverly Ann Chin, Ph.D.
        Series Consultant

     John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:

How to build a super vocabulary / Beverly Ann Chin, series consultant.
  p. cm.
 Includes index.
 ISBN 0-471-43157-5 (pkb. : alk. paper)
 1. Vocabulary.
 PE1449.H588 2004
428.1—dc22                                                                     2004002248

Printed in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
              DEAR STUDENTS
Welcome to the WILEY KEYS TO SUCCESS series! The books in this
series are practical guides designed to help you be a better student.
Each book focuses on an important area of schoolwork, including
building your vocabulary, studying and doing homework, writing
research papers, taking tests, and more.
    Each book contains seven chapters—the keys to helping you
improve your skills as a student. As you understand and use each key,
you’ll find that you will enjoy learning more than ever before. As a
result, you’ll feel more confident in your classes and be better prepared
to demonstrate your knowledge.
    I invite you to use the WILEY KEYS TO SUCCESS series at
school and at home. As you apply each key, you will open the doors to
success in school as well as to many other areas of your life. Good
luck, and enjoy the journey!

                                    Beverly Ann Chin, Series Consultant
                                                   Professor of English
                                       University of Montana, Missoula
The WILEY KEYS TO SUCCESS series is a series of handbooks
designed to help students improve their academic performance.
Happily, the keys can open doors for everyone—at home, in school,
at work.
    Each book is an invaluable resource that offers seven simple, prac-
tical steps to mastering an important aspect of schoolwork, such as
building vocabulary, studying and doing homework, taking tests, and
writing research papers. We hand readers seven keys—or chapters—
that show them how to increase their success as learners—a plan
intended to build lifelong learning skills. Reader-friendly graphics, self-
assessment questions, and comprehensive appendices provide addi-
tional information.
    Helpful features scattered throughout the books include “Getting It
Right,” which expands on the text with charts, graphs, and models;
“Inside Secret,” which reveals all-important hints, rules, definitions, and
even warnings; and “Ready, Set, Review,” which makes it easy for stu-
dents to remember key points.
    WILEY KEYS TO SUCCESS are designed to ensure that all stu-
dents have the opportunity to experience success. Once students know
achievement, they are more likely to become independent learners,
effective communicators, and critical thinkers. Many readers will want
to use each guidebook by beginning with the first key and progressing
systematically to the last key. Some readers will select the keys they
need most and integrate what they learn with their own routines.
 viii   Note to Teachers, Librarians, and Parents

    As educators and parents, you can encourage students to use the
books in this series to assess their own strengths and weaknesses as
learners. Using students’ responses and your own observations of their
study skills and habits, you can help students develop positive atti-
tudes, set realistic goals, form successful schedules, organize materials,
and monitor their own academic progress. In addition, you can discuss
how adults use similar study strategies and communication skills in
their personal and professional lives.
    We hope you and your students will enjoy the WILEY KEYS TO
SUCCESS series. We think readers will turn to these resources time
and time again. By showing students how to achieve everyday success,
we help children grow into responsible, independent young adults who
value their education—and into adults who value learning throughout
their lives.

                                    Beverly Ann Chin, Series Consultant
                                                   Professor of English
                                       University of Montana, Missoula
Introduction 1

     1: Know the History of Language    3

     2: Find the Roots   15

     3: Use Context Clues     27

     4: Use Your Tools 37

     5: Tackle the Tough Ones 47

     6: Build Your Vocabulary      57

     7: Use the Best Words      65

The Ultimate Word List   73
Index 107

           he English language is huge, immense, enormous, titanic,
           prodigious. (All of these words mean “very large.”) The big, fat
           unabridged dictionaries have about half a million entry words.
Language experts estimate that English may have as many as a million
words if you count scientific and technical terms. And like all living
languages, English keeps growing all the time.
    So how many English words do you know already? Probably many
thousands. But just as you wouldn’t stay with the vocabulary you had
when you were two or three years old, you won’t stay with the one you
have now. Your vocabulary will keep growing as you meet new words
in your reading and hear them in conversations, on radio, or on TV.
    Your vocabulary is directly related to your success in school. That’s
why there are so many vocabulary questions on state and national
standardized tests. Readers who evaluate your writing on essay tests
also focus on your vocabulary, to make sure you use words precisely
and correctly.
    The book you are holding, How to Build a Super Vocabulary, is a
resource and reference book that can help you enlarge your vocabu-
lary. It introduces you to many new words to use when you write, read,
speak, and listen.
 2       Introduction

    You can also learn strategies—systematic approaches—for discov-
ering the meaning of unfamiliar words:
     G   Recognize different kinds of context clues that enable you to
         make an educated guess about the meaning of an unfamiliar
         word in your reading.
     G   Learn how a dictionary and a thesaurus can help expand your
         vocabulary, especially when you’re writing.
     G   Recognize the meanings of some of the most familiar roots, pre-
         fixes, and suffixes. Those word parts will help you puzzle out
         the meaning of many unfamiliar English words.
     G   Put the new words you acquire to good use in your speaking and
     G   Avoid some of the mistakes and mix-ups that can happen when
         you use English words.

     At the back of this book, you’ll find “The Ultimate Word List,” a
mini-dictionary of words that will help you focus on strengthening your
personal weak spots. Some of these are words you’re expected to
know now. Others are words that you’re challenged to learn. One long
list has words from different content areas, and another contains
words commonly found on standardized tests.
     “The Ultimate Word List” is just a starting point. Use those words in
sentences. Make them your own.
     By the time you finish reading this book, your vocabulary will have
grown considerably. You’ll also have gained skills and strategies that
you can apply to any unfamiliar word you meet—for the rest of your
        KEY 1
 Theories About How Language Began
 How Language Changes
 Looking at Some Interesting Words

           Isn’t it amazing that all over
           the world newborn babies
           grow up to speak the language
           that their parents speak? If
           you had been born in France,
           you’d be speaking French.

            aybe you can speak, read, write, or understand two lan-
            guages. That would make you bilingual. (You’d be trilingual
            if you could speak three languages; some people speak
even more.) Your native language, or “mother tongue,” is the first lan-
guage you learned, most likely the one you speak at home. Now you
may be taking a foreign-language course in school.
 4     How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Theories About How Language Began
Words give you power. They give you the ability to share your
thoughts and ideas. Written words can help you tune in to the
thoughts of people who lived long ago or who live far away. Words also
help you to imagine anything—experiences you’ve never had and
events far into the future. (For a sampling of some English words and
the ideas they let you express, see the words on “The Ultimate Word
List” at the back of this book.)
    No one knows when or how language first began. Linguists, the
experts who study language, have some theories, or ideas, about the
origin of language.

Language as Instinct
Many modern linguists think the human brain is hard-wired for lan-
guage. Your ability to speak and understand words is instinctual,
meaning it comes naturally. This ability makes you different from all
other species. Babies learn to speak spontaneously—without formal in-
struction. The babbling or nonsense sounds that infants make are part
of learning the vocabulary and grammar of their native language.

Say It with Gestures
Some linguists believe that before people used language, they commu-
nicated with gestures, movements of their hands and arms. The earliest
people conveyed meaning by making faces, pointing, motioning, or
touching objects. Gradually, they began to use sounds that they agreed
would stand for the objects around them. Those sounds were the first
   Words enabled people to talk about things they could not see or
touch. In the middle of summer, for instance, they could talk about the
snow and ice that would come in winter. And even though the sun was
                                  Know the History of Language      5

shining brightly, they could talk about the moon and stars they could
not see until nighttime.                                                  E
The Bowwow Theory                                                         1
This theory and the next two were popular during the nineteenth cen-
tury but aren’t endorsed by most linguists today. (Their names make fun
of these theories.) Some people believed that language began when peo-
ple imitated the sounds made by the things they were describing. Roar,
buzz, and crash, for instance, are echoic, or onomatopoeic, words. That
means the spoken words sound like the sounds they are describing.
 6     How to Build a Super Vocabulary

    According to the linguist Mario Pei, the sound of a sneeze is written
differently in different languages. You’d write ker-choo in English, gu-
gu in Japanese, hah-chee in Chinese, and ap-chi in Russian.

Yo-Ho, Heave-Ho Theory
Other linguists believed that language came from the sounds (grunting,
groaning, and rhythmic chanting) that people made as they worked to-
gether at some task. No one knows what those grunts, groans, and
chants sounded like. (“Yo ho, heave-ho” is a chant that sailors some-
times used as they pulled together on a rope.) For the earliest speak-
ers, language was especially useful while hunting, sharing food, and
protecting themselves from attacks.

The Pooh-Pooh Theory
The English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809–1882) believed that lan-
guage developed from instinctive cries that humans made to express
emotions, such as fear, anger, pleasure, and pain. For instance, you
might say “mmmm” when you are licking a chocolate ice-cream cone
or “ow!” when someone steps on your toe.

So What Do You Think?
Remember, those are all theories—guesses about why something hap-
pens. No one knows for sure why and how language began. Which theory
about the origin of language makes the most sense to you? Why? Can
you think of another explanation for the first human speech?

How Language Changes
Languages are changing and growing all the time. That’s true
not just for English but for every living language. (A living language is
one that’s still being spoken.) Languages change in three basic ways.
                                   Know the History of Language          7

New Words Come                                                               K
New words are coined—made up—to describe scientific discoveries              E
and new inventions and experiences. Fax (short for facsimile) entered        Y
English in the 1980s, when the device for transmitting documents             1
through phone lines was invented. Think of e-mail, smog, software,
robotics, laser, and hologram—all those words came along in the late
twentieth century.

Old Words Go
Gradually, words disappear because they are no longer used. Thee,
thou, and ye are archaic (no-longer-used) forms of you. You might find
the archaic ere (before) or o’er (over) in poetry but not in speech.

Meanings Change
A word may stay, but its meaning may change. Whoever could imagine
that the word bead meant “prayer” when it began in Middle English? Or
that there’d be this new meaning for the word burn: You can burn a CD
from online music files. Slang, a form of informal speech, gives us a
never-ending supply of new meanings for old words. Cool, for example,
once referred only to temperature. For many decades, cool has meant
“excellent” or “very good.”

Looking at Some Interesting Words
Every word has a story. Most English words have come a long
way through many languages. A dictionary tells a word’s history
in an etymology that’s usually printed after the pronunciation and be-
fore the definitions. Etymologies trace the origin and development of
words. They show a word’s original language and form and other lan-
guages and forms the word has moved through as it has developed.
8   How to Build a Super Vocabulary

           Nouns Become V in which language
                One of the wa            ke on new me
            changes is   that words ta            ch also
                                  e part of spee
            ings.  Sometimes th         someone start
            changes.    For example,             ntually
                                 verb, and eve
             usin g a noun as a           espread. Som
             that usag  e becomes wid ouns and be-
                             arted out as n
             words that st                    (from
                              clude babysit
              came verbs in        tuit (from intu
              baby  sitter) and in

         Here are some recent examples of verbs made
      from nouns.
      G   Will you please e-mail me the date and time of your arrival?
      G   Stacy’s grandmother faxed her the recipe for potato pan-
      G   When he was searching for a job, Runar networked with his
          former classmates and everyone else he knew.
      G   Lauren hopes to broker a new contract with her employer.
                                 Know the History of Language       9

   Etymologies go backward in time. They begin with the most recent
form of the word and go back to the oldest known form. Etymologies        E
use abbreviations and symbols to tell a story about the word.             Y
   Fr French           ME Middle English          lit. literally
   Gr Greek            OE Old English             prob. probably
   L Latin             < derived from             ? unknown

    Here’s what the etymology of the English word person might look

   person (PER.sun) n. [ME persone < OFr < L persona, lit., mask
   (esp. one worn by an actor), character, role, person, prob. <
   Etruscan phersu, mask]

   Can you “translate” this etymology? Here’s what it says: The English
word person comes from the Middle English word persone, which in
turn comes from an Old French word and before that from the Latin
word persona. Literally, persona means “mask,” especially one worn by
an actor, so persona came to refer to a character, role, or person.
Probably the word persona came from the Etruscan word phersu,
which means “mask.”
   Wow! That’s a lot of information packed into a two-line etymology.
No wonder dictionary writers use abbreviations and symbols. You can
read dictionary etymologies whenever you want to find out about a
word’s history. You can find a key to the abbreviations and symbols at
the front of every dictionary.
 10       How to Build a Super Vocabulary

How would you like to have a word named after you—not just any
word, but a word you personally inspired? It’s fun to learn about
eponyms, words that have been named after real or mythical people.
Pennsylvania, for example, is an eponym, named for the state’s
founder, William Penn. Here are some common eponyms:
      G   boycott v. to join with others in refusing to buy, use, or sell a

   The story behind the word. Captain C. C. Boycott was a land
agent in Ireland. In 1880, he raised the land rents so high that his ten-
ants and neighbors joined together and refused to deal with him. It was
the first boycott.
      G   Ferris wheel n. an amusement-park ride consisting of a gigan-
          tic vertical wheel that revolves on a fixed axle. Passengers ride
          in seats that hang between two parallel rims.

    The story behind the word. George W. G. Ferris, an American en-
gineer from Galesburg, Illinois, designed and built the first Ferris wheel
ride for the World’s Fair held in Chicago in 1893.
      G   gerrymander v. to redraw an election district to give one
          political party an advantage. The purpose of redrawing a voting
          district is to weaken the political power of ethnic, racial, or
          urban voters.

   The story behind the word. Elbridge Gerry (1744–1814) signed
the Declaration of Independence. Then, he served as governor of
Massachusetts and U.S. vice president (1813–1814) under President
James Madison. In 1812, while Gerry was still governor of
Massachusetts, Essex County was redrawn to give his own political
party an advantage. The redrawn district looked something like a sala-
mander, so a political cartoonist coined the word gerrymander (Gerry
+ mander).
                                    Know the History of Language        11

    G   maverick n. someone who
        acts independently. A maverick
        acts according to his or her be-
        liefs, refusing to go along with
        what others are doing.                                               1
    The story behind the word.                Borrowed Words
Samuel Maverick (1803–1870), a
                                             When borrowed words
Texas rancher, refused to brand his
                                             become part of the
cattle despite the fact that all the other
                                             English language, they
ranchers were branding theirs.
                                             often get a new pro-
    G   sandwich n. two slices of
                                             nunciation. For ex-
        bread with meat, cheese, fish,
        or other filling between them.       ample, the word denim,
                                             the sturdy cotton mater-
    The story behind the word. John
                                             ial used for blue jeans,
Montagu (1718–1792), the fourth earl
                                             came from the French.
of Sandwich, didn’t want to stop play-
                                             It was originally serge
ing cards at a gambling table. He or-
                                             (a type of cloth) de
dered a servant to bring him roast beef
                                             Nîmes, from Nîmes, the
wrapped in bread, and the sandwich
                                             city where it was made.
was born.
                                             The French say “duh    G

    G   sideburns n. whiskers on a           NEEM,” but Americans
        man’s face in front of the ears,
                                             changed it to “DEN im.”

        especially when no beard is

   The story behind the word. During the Civil War, Union General
Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824–1881) wore a mustache and
side whiskers but shaved his chin clean. This style of beard was called
burnsides, after the general. Eventually, the word order reversed to be-
come sideburns.
 12    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Borrowed Words
Without borrowing, you wouldn’t be eating cookies or coleslaw—they’d
be called something else. English is a much richer language because of
the many foreign words that it has borrowed. After the Norman
Conquest of England in 1066, when French became the official lan-
guage of the English government and the court, thousands of French
words came into the English language.
    Wherever people traveled, they found new animals, foods, places,
and ideas that had been named in other languages. And they knew a
good word when they heard or saw it. So English grew and grew, en-
riched by borrowed words from many different languages.
    Here are some of the languages that have given us words and just a
few of the many English words we’ve borrowed from them:
                          Borrowed Words
  African banana, bongo, chimpanzee, mumbo jumbo, yam
  American Indian chipmunk, moccasin, moose, powwow,
  Arabic algebra, assassin, coffee, cotton, jar, sofa
  Chinese china, silk, tea, typhoon
  Dutch boss, landscape, pickle, sketch, sled, split, stove, wagon
  French barber, detail, essay, government, justice, liberty, proof,
    ticket, treaty
  German delicatessen, dollar, hamburger, kindergarten, noodle,
  Inuit (Eskimo) anorak, igloo, kayak
  Italian balcony, carnival, piano, sonnet, spaghetti, umbrella
  Old Norse both, cake, freckles, happen, happy, leg, sky, take,
    ugly, want
  Russian cosmonaut, mammoth, parka, steppe
  Scandinavian geyser, gremlin, rug, ski
  Spanish alligator, barbecue, lasso, ranch, stampede, tomato
                               Know the History of Language      13

                        Language History                              1
1. Match each of the numbered words with the language that
   English borrowed it from. (At the end, every English word
   should be matched with one foreign language.) While
   you’re at it, write a definition of each word. Then, use a dic-
   tionary to check your guesses.
     1. bonanza            a. Spanish
     2. banjo              b. Dutch
     3. skunk              c. French
     4. sleigh             d. Arabic
     5. pretzel            e. American Indian
     6. vogue               f. Italian
     7. spaghetti          g. African
     8. zero               h. Norwegian
     9. ski                 i. Hindi
   10. shampoo              j. German

2. Do a little detective work. In a dictionary that shows ety-
   mologies, look up three of the words from the list below.
   First, discover what the word means. Then, use the etymol-
   ogy to decipher the story behind the word. You may need to
   look up a person’s name, too. Tell each word’s story to a
   friend or family member.
   teddy bear           Bunsen burner         Geiger counter
   Celsius              Fahrenheit            pasteurize
14   How to Build a Super Vocabulary

3. What language does each of the following English
   word come from? Use a dictionary to find each word’s
   zero       cookie  walrus        canyon     pasta
   skunk      waffle  cockroach     potato     attorney
4. What’s the story behind the name of your state? Many
   state names and other place-names come from
   American Indian languages. Check the etymology of your
   state’s name in a dictionary to find out about it.
       KEY 2
 Base Words and Roots
 Combining Forms
 Prefixes and Suffixes

        Some English words are short
        and snappy. But many English
        words are built from words
        and word parts that have been
        combined to make new words.

          ecognizing word parts and knowing their meanings can help
          you unlock the meaning of many unfamiliar words. This
          chapter introduces you to three different kinds of basic word
parts that carry a word’s core meaning: base words, roots, and combin-
ing forms. You’ll also meet two kinds of add-ons: prefixes, which come
at the beginning, and suffixes, which come at the end, of a word.
 16    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Base Words and Roots
Learning new words is a lot easier when you find familiar parts
in them. Learn to look for the most important part of a word, its
base word or root. A base word is an ordinary English word to which
prefixes and/or suffixes have been added. In the word disappearance,
for example, the base word is appear:

                dis-       appear        -ance         disappearance

   Can you find the base word in unforgettable and in research?
   Many English words are related: They come from the same root.
A root is not a separate English word the way that a base word is.

                              Base Words and Roots

                                       to force [a liquid]
                                       into a passage; to
                    abject:                introduce                   injection:
                   miserable;                                      something injected,
                   wretched                                        as a vaccine, into
                                                                        the body
         conjecture:                   Latin, “throw”                     reject:
       an inference or                                               to refuse to take;
           guess                                                      to throw away

                         project:                       eject:
                   to plan; to throw             to throw out; to
                       out an idea                     drive out
                                                Find the Roots   17

Instead, a root is a group of letters
that carries a meaning from a differ-
ent language, usually Greek
or Latin.

BASE WORD        unusual                                              K
Usual is a base word.
                                              The History             E
                                               of Words               Y
WORD ROOT         recurrent
Cur is a Latin root that means
                                          When learning vocabu-
“run.”                                    lary words, you don’t
    The word web on page 16 shows         absolutely need to
you a word family. All of the words       know which roots are
are related because they come origi-      Greek and which are
nally from the Latin root-ject, meaning   Latin. But if you are
“throw.” You can see that some words      someone who likes
have stayed close to the original         learning a little bit of
meaning of the root while others          history, you may find
have taken on new meanings.               that kind of informa-
                                          tion interesting and
                                          even helpful. The more
                                          familiar you become
                                          with the stories behind
                                          words, the more easily
                                          you can remember the
                                          details about roots—and
                                          use them to make
                                          connections to other
18   How to Build a Super Vocabulary

                                   d Latin
                Know Your Greek an me com-
                               s so
                     This chart s    tin roots, th
                  mon G reek and La       words con-
                  meaning,  and English
                               e roots.
                  taining thos

       Root                   Meaning        Examples
       -aqua-                 water          aquarium, aquatic
       -cede-, -ceed-         go, yield      precede, proceed
       -cosm-                 universe       cosmic, cosmonaut
       -cred-, -credit-       believe        credible, credo
       -curr-, -curs-         run            current, excursion
       -dic-, dict-           say            diction, dictator
       -duc-, -duct-          lead           conduct, educate
       -fac-, -fic-           make, do       factory, fiction
       -fer-                  bring, carry   transfer, refer
       -ject-                 throw          reject, inject
       -jud-, -jur-, -just-   law            judicial, jury, justice
       -loc-                  place          location, locate
       -log-                  word           dialogue, monologue
       -lum-                  light          luminous, illuminate
       -luna-                 moon           lunar, lunatic
       -mater-, -matr-        mother         maternal, matriarch
       -mort-                 death          mortal, immortal
       -pater-                father         paternity, paternal
       -ped-                  foot           pedal, pedestrian
       -pend-                 hang, weight   depend, pendulum
       -pon-, -pos-           put, place     postpone, position
       -port-                 carry          transport, import
       -rupt-                 break          interrupt, erupt
       -scribe-, -scrip-      write          describe, scripture
       -sens-                 feeling        sensation, sensitive
       -spec-                 see, look      spectator, spectacles
       -tact-                 touch          contact, tactile
       -temp-                 time           temporary, tempo
       -therm-                heat           thermos, thermometer
       -trans-                across         transport, transfer
       -vid-                  see            evidence, video
       -viv-                  life           vivid, revive
                                                      Find the Roots          19

Combining Forms
Every time you pick up a telephone or ride in an automobile or
look at a photograph, you use a combining form. Such words are
called combining forms because they combine with other word forms
or with prefixes or suffixes, or both, to form new words. Most combin-
ing forms come originally from ancient Latin and Greek words.                      Y
Combining Form    Meaning                           Examples                       2
anthropo-         man                               anthropology
-archy            government, rule                  monarchy, matriarchy
audio-            hearing, sound                    audiocassette, audiovisual
auto-             self                              automobile, autograph
biblio-           book                              bibliography
chron-            time                              chronology, chronic
geo-              earth                             geography, geology
-gram             something written                 telegram, grammar
-graph            something that writes or is written phonograph, paragraph
hydro-            water                             hydrogen, hydroelectric
-logy, -ology     science of, study of              ecology, psychology
mega-             very large, great                 megabyte, megadose
-meter            instrument for measuring          speedometer, thermometer
micro-            small                             microscope, microbe
mid-              middle                            midway, midnight
mini-             very small                        minivan, minibike
multi-            many                              multicolored, multiethnic
omni-             all, everywhere                   omnipresent, omniscient
-phobia           fear                              claustrophobia
-phone            device producing sound            telephone, microphone
photo-            light                             photograph, photosensitive
poly-             much, many                        polygraph, polyunsaturated
psych-, psycho-   mind                              psychology, psychic
-scope            instrument for seeing             microscope, telescope
tele-             at, over, or from a distance      telegraph, telephone
 20    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Prefixes and Suffixes
Just a few letters can make a world of difference. Un- added
to happy changes your mood to its opposite. Mis- added to adventure
turns an adventure into a disaster.
    Think of prefixes and suffixes as attachments. They attach to the
beginning (prefix) or the end (suffix) of a base word or root to create a
new word. The general name that covers both prefixes and suffixes is
affix. An affix is a word part that is added to a base word to change its
                                                          Find the Roots          21

Prefixes Come at the Beginning
A prefix is a group of letters (one or two syllables) that attach to the
beginning of a base word or root to create a new word. Prefixes have
meanings that change the base word in a specific way:
       re- (again) play replay (to play again)
       semi- (half) circle semicircle (half a circle)
       bi- (two) weekly biweekly (once every two weeks)                                    Y
       un- (not) pleasant unpleasant (not pleasant)
   Here are some common prefixes with their meanings and some
example words.

Prefix               Meaning                     Examples
a-, ab-              not, without                atypical, amoral, abnormal
ante-                before                      anteroom, antecedent
anti-                against, opposite           antiwar, antibody
arch-                main, chief                 archenemy, archangel
bi-                  two                         bicycle, biweekly
circum-              around                      circumference, circumstance
co-, com-, con-      with, together              coauthor, commit, conference
contra-              against                     contrary, contradict
de-, dis-            opposite, down, away from   defrost, dishonest
ex-                  out of, away from, former   extract, ex-president
fore-                before                      foreground, foreknowledge
il-, im-, in-, ir-   not                         illegal, impossible, inadequate,
in-                  into                        invade, intrude
inter-               between, among              interstate, international
intra-               within, inside              intramural, intravenous
mal-                 bad, badly                  malfunction, maladjusted
mis-                 wrongly, badly              misplace, miscalculate
mono-                one, single                 monologue, monotone
non-                 not, the opposite of        nonsense, nonessential
 22      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Prefix            Meaning                  Examples
post-             after                    postpone, postgame
pre-              before                   prefix, prepay
re-               again, back              revisit, reattach
semi-             half                     semicircle, semiannual
sub-              under, less than         submarine, substandard
super-            above, greater than      superior, superpower
trans-            over, across             transfer, transatlantic
tri-              three                    tricycle, triangle
un-               not                      unusual, unsatisfactory
uni-              one, single              uniform, unilateral

Suffixes Come at the End
A suffix is a syllable or group of letters added to the end of a base
word to create a new word. The suffixes -s and -es turn singular nouns
into plural nouns: coat -s coats, and clash -es clashes. The
familiar suffixes -ed and -ing are added to verbs to change their tense:
create -ed created; wear -ing wearing.
    Suffixes also change words into different parts of speech:
       custom (noun) -ize customize (verb)
       accident (noun) -al accidental (adjective)
       wise (adjective) -dom wisdom (noun)
    Suffixes have meanings, too, but learning them is not necessary.
Just remember that some suffixes make words into nouns, and other
suffixes turn words into verbs, adjectives, or adverbs.
                                                              Find the Roots        23

 Suffixes That Form Nouns                    Suffixes That Form Verbs
 Suffix        Examples                      Suffix       Examples
 -age          postage, marriage             -ate         vaccinate, cooperate
 -ance         performance, hindrance        -en          brighten, strengthen
 -ant          defendant, occupant           -ing         puzzling, keeping
 -arch         monarch, patriarch            -ize         fantasize, crystallize         K
 -dom          kingdom, wisdom
                                             Suffixes That Form Adjectives
 -ee           employee, absentee
                                             -able        capable, reliable
 -eer          mountaineer, charioteer
                                             -er, -est    finer, finest; younger,        2
 -er, -or      dancer, actor                              youngest
 -ence         excellence, conference        -ful         hopeful, fanciful
 -hood         childhood, motherhood         -ic, -ical   comic, magical
 -ion          union, inspection, tension    -ish         foolish, reddish
 -ism          patriotism, Impressionism     -ive         massive, creative
 -ment         enjoyment, attachment         -less        fearless, tireless
 -ness         happiness, darkness           -some        handsome, lonesome
 -tion         application, demonstration
                                             Suffixes That Form Adverbs
                                             -ly          carefully, happily
                                             -ward        inward, outward
                                             -ways        sideways, frontways
                                             -wise        lengthwise, clockwise

Exceptions to the Rule
When you add a prefix to a base word, the spelling of the base word
doesn’t change. Just add the prefix at the beginning:
       dis- similar dissimilar         ir- responsible irresponsible
    But suffixes are tricky. Adding a suffix very often requires a change
in spelling. You need to know these spelling rules and, of course, their
       G    Do not change the spelling of a base word if you add the prefix
            -ly or -ness.

            friend   -ly       friendly     late      -ness     lateness
 24       How to Build a Super Vocabulary

   EXCEPTIONS: In words ending in y, the y often changes to i:
easily, happiness.
      G   Drop a silent e at the end of a base word when you add a suffix
          that starts with a vowel.

      sincere -ity sincerity    move -able movable
   EXCEPTIONS: There are many exceptions, including courageous,
mileage, and noticeable.
      G   Keep a silent e at the end of a base word when you add a suffix
          that begins with a consonant.

       care -less careless              amuse -ment amusement
   EXCEPTIONS: argument, truly, nobly
   Double the final consonant before adding a suffix that begins with a
vowel. Do this only if the base word has one syllable or is accented on
the last syllable or if the base word ends in a consonant preceded by a
single vowel.
       win -er winner                   hop -ing hopping
   If you’re in doubt about how to spell a word, use a dictionary.
See, for example, the mini-dictionary at the back of this book.

                         Finding Roots, Prefixes,
                            Suffixes, and More
  1. Look for base words, roots, combining forms, prefixes, and
     suffixes in each of the italicized words below. Use the infor-
     mation in this chapter to make a guess about the meaning
     of each word. Check your guess in a dictionary, and then
     write an original sentence for each italicized word.
                                                Find the Roots      25

    G   Have you read Benjamin Franklin’s or Thomas Jefferson’s
    G   Anne-Marie, an anthropologist, is interested in the mound
        builders, American Indians who built burial mounds and
        other earthworks.                                                K
    G   Maya’s chicken curry recipe calls for many spices and a          E
        judicious use of hot peppers.                                    Y
    G   Ever since he looked at a drop of pond water through
        a microscope, Ross has been interested in studying               2
    G   Another name for rabies is hydrophobia because people
        with rabies are unable to swallow liquids.
    G   No matter what anyone says, Howard seems totally
        insensitive to criticism of his paintings.
    G   Jack says he has a recurrent dream about coming to
        school in his pajamas.
    G   The chamber of commerce issued its annual projection of
        tourism figures.
    G   From the three witches, Macbeth gained some foreknowl-
        edge of what would happen to him.
    G   Mescal signed up for a mini-workshop on peer mediation.
2. Try to think of at least one more word as an example of
   each root in the chart on page 18.
     You can mix and match the combining forms in the chart
   on page 19 to form many English words. See how many
   words you can think of, and compare your list with your
   classmates’ lists.
     Turn to “The Ultimate Word List” at the back of this book.
   Try to find ten words that start with prefixes. Then, find ten
   different words that end with suffixes. Compare your lists
   with your classmates’.
       KEY 3
 General Context
 Definitions in Context
 Other Clues to Meaning

         How often do you stop read-
         ing to look up a new word in
         a dictionary? If you’re like
         most readers, you almost
         never stop.

          ou have reading detective skills that help you guess the mean-
          ing of unfamiliar words. And how do you manage to do that?
          Probably you’ve never thought about how you do it—you just
do it. This chapter shows you some useful strategies for figuring out
the meaning of new words.
 28       How to Build a Super Vocabulary

General Context
Words don’t travel alone. Every word sits in the middle of its
context, the words and sentences that surround it. As an experienced
reader, you’ve learned to look for context clues. Sometimes you have
to look at the big picture—you may have to read an entire paragraph or
more. In the following paragraph, notice the underlined context clues,
which help you guess the meaning of ambiguous.

        In her essay about Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,”               These clues show
                                                                  that something ambiguous
  Nora says she believes that the poem’s last line is deliber-    has more than one pos-
  ately ambiguous. “I think Frost meant us TO INTERPRET THAT      sible meaning.
  LINE IN MORE THAN ONE WAY. There’s NO SINGLE CORRECT MEANING.        This clue tells us that
                                                                  something ambiguous is
  In fact, there may be SEVERAL MEANINGS. We’re meant             puzzling.

Definitions in Context
A sentence’s structure—its syntax—may provide two kinds
of clues:
      G   An appositive is a word or phrase that explains or identifies the
          noun or pronoun that precedes it. Some appositives are set off
          by commas. Sometimes appositives begin with the word or.

          Every Friday after school, Lara attends a class in botany, the
          study of plants, at the science museum.
                                         Use Context Clues    29

    The secretary announced the
    agenda, or list of topics to be
    covered, at the student council
G   Sometimes the definition is a
    predicate nominative (also
    called a predicate noun). A          Grammar Clues
    predicate nominative is a noun          from the
    or pronoun that follows a link-
    ing verb and identifies or re-        Author to You
    names the subject of the sen-                                  K
    tence. Remember that is, was,      Writers often try to help   E
    were, and all other forms of the   you figure out the          Y
    verb be are linking verbs.         meaning of a difficult      3
       Psychology is the science       word. Sometimes they
    that deals with the human mind     provide a definition or
    and emotions.                      restatement of an un-
                                       familiar word. The
                                       word’s meaning is built
                                       right in to the sentence,
                                       and all you have to do
                                       is look for it. For ex-
                                       ample, the underlined
                                       word below actually de-
                                       fines the word indige-
                                           Can you name some
                                       of the trees that are in-
                                       digenous, or native, to
                                       your state?
 30     How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Other Clues to Meaning
On the next several pages, you can find a number of other kinds
of context clues.

Key Words to Clue You In
Key words are the most important words, the ones that help you find
precisely what you’re looking for. You use key words whenever you do
an Internet search. You can tell that a word is a key word if it’s re-
peated often or if it sounds important. Sometimes the structure of the
sentence helps you recognize a key word.

  About one sixth of the 120 species of SNAKES in America are           The key words
                                                                        snakes, bites, and
  venomous. If a VENOMOUS SNAKE BITES you, go to a DOCTOR OR HOSPITAL   doctor or hospital
  IMMEDIATELY.                                                          immediately show
                                                                        that venomous
                                                                        means “poisonous.”

Explanations Through Examples
Another way writers try to help you is by giving examples of an un-
familiar word.

       You’ll never see a living dinosaur, mastodon, or wooly mammoth
       because all of those animal species are extinct.

   Example clues may be introduced with a dash or a colon or with
the words for example, for instance, or such as.
       You can recognize conifers—such as pine, fir, cedar, and
       spruce—by their seed-bearing cones.

Comparisons with Familiar Words
  When writers compare two things, they show how they are alike.
One kind of comparison clue is a synonym, a word that has the same
                                             Use Context Clues      31

or nearly the same meaning as the unfamiliar word. Enormous, gigan-
tic, and huge, for instance, are synonyms for colossal.

      Gina built a colossal snowman. It was so enormous that she had
      to stand on a chair to decorate its face.

   In another kind of comparison clue, familiar words in a nearby
clause or phrase help to explain an unfamiliar word.

      My friend Bobbie is a pessimist. In every situation, she always
      thinks that the worst will happen.
 32    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Contrasts with Familiar Words
When you contrast two or more things, you show how they are differ-
ent. Writers sometimes provide antonyms, words with the opposite
meaning, as context clues.

      Dave warned us to hurry and not to tarry over dinner, or we’d
      miss the last bus home.

Explanations Through Relationships
Sometimes you can guess a word’s meaning from the general situation
in a sentence.

      The little boy couldn’t speak any English, but he was able to
      pantomime his request, using gestures and body movements.

   Connecting words called conjunctions may also serve as context
clues. And, but, or, and yet connect ideas that are equal in importance.
They are called coordinating conjunctions. Words like although, if,
when, and unless connect a less important idea to a more important
one. These are subordinating conjunctions.

      Latisha is the most logical of my friends. She almost always
      wins an argument because she gives strong reasons to support
      her views.
                                               Use Context Clues      33

                   ologue for Rea
        Sample Mon g of a Word
        Out the Meanin            ch on a
                            p on the co
           You ’re curled u     into an exc
        rainy day. You’re deep        d you come
                    yste ry novel, an                                      K
        part of a m
                     paragraph:                                            E
         across this
    From a distance, Sean could see that the old house looked des-
olate and abandoned. Shutters hung off their hinges, upstairs
windows were broken, the paint peeled, the porch sagged, and the
steps were totally gone. Around the house, tall weeds and wild
grasses grew hip-high. It was an hour after sunset, and the
gloomy darkness gave the house a sinister look—as if something
evil might be waiting inside. Sean shivered with foreboding. “Don’t
go in, don’t go in,” his cautious self warned. But Sean ignored his
inner voice warning of danger. He climbed onto the sagging porch,
reached for the doorknob, and stepped into a pitch-black room
that smelled of death and decay.
    Here’s how you might go about puzzling the meanings as you

G   Wow! That’s three words I’m not sure of: desolate, sinister,
    and foreboding.
34   How to Build a Super Vocabulary

       G   Let’s see. Desolate has something to do with looking deserted
           and also something to do with looking ruined. Abandoned is a
           synonym, I think, for desolate. In the second sentence, the
           writer gives lots of examples of what’s wrong with the house.
           It’s a wreck. Does it ever need fixing up!
       G   I think sinister must mean some kind of mysterious evil. The
           writer sort of defines sinister in the same sentence, right
           after the dash.
       G   That leaves foreboding. I know that fore- is a prefix that
           means “before” or “in advance.” I think that the next two
           sentences have lots of clues that tell me that foreboding must
           mean “a feeling that something bad is going to happen.”

           What can you do if an unfamiliar word really stops you, and
       there are no context clues? Remember the dictionary! You can al-
       ways check the word’s meaning in a dictionary at the back of
       this book.
                                          Use Context Clues      35

                      Guess the Meaning
1. Using context clues, write a definition of each italicized
   word. Notice the clues that help you guess the meaning of
   each word. When you finish, check your guesses in a dictio-
   nary. How close did you come to the dictionary meanings?
   G   Ryan is so amiable that no one has ever seen him in
       a bad mood.                                                    K
   G   After the hike, I was ravenous, so I ate two peanut            E
       butter and jelly sandwiches, a lot of raw carrots, and         Y
       two oranges.                                                   3
   G   Homer’s epics—the Iliad and the Odyssey—tell of the
       Trojan War and its aftermath. Critics agree that these
       long narrative poems are among the greatest works
       of Western civilization.
   G   Unlike her sister, Wendy is an optimist. Whenever dis-
       aster strikes, Wendy cheerily believes that everything
       will turn out okay.
   G   The most exciting part of our hike was walking be-
       hind the cascade, or waterfall, and discovering a
       huge cave.
   G   Four-year-old Sara doesn’t always tell the truth. I’ve
       heard her prevaricate in order to keep from getting
       in trouble.
   G   Carl is so gullible that he believes everything every-
       one tells him—even telemarketers—and everything he
       reads in the newspaper or hears on the news.
   G   Not even a professional sleuth, or private detective,
       can solve the mystery of the missing socks.
36       How to Build a Super Vocabulary

     G The chairman encourages all of his subordinates—his
       assistants and staff members—to submit their sugges-
       tions for improving sales.
   G Besides the sun and the moon, how many celestial
       bodies can you identify?
2. Choose ten words from the vocabulary lists at the back of
   this book. Choose words that interest you or words you’ve
   never seen or heard before. Write an original sentence for
   each word (underline the word), and be sure to include
   context clues in each finish. When you finish writing your ten
   sentences, exchange your paper with a partner. Then, use
   the context clues to guess the meaning of each underlined
   word in your partner’s sentences.
       KEY 4
 Kinds of Dictionaries
 The Dictionary Entry
 Dictionary Entries with Multiple Meanings
 The Thesaurus and How It Works

        Auto mechanics use wrenches
        and screwdrivers. What kinds
        of tools do readers and writ-
        ers use?

         arpenters use hammers and saws. Gardeners use spades and
         rakes and shovels. People who work with words—and you do
         whenever you read or write—have two handy-dandy tools to
help them: a dictionary and a thesaurus.
 38    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Kinds of Dictionaries
People talk about looking something up in “the dictionary.” They
really should say “a dictionary” because so many different kinds
of dictionaries exist. (See, for example, the mini-dictionary at the back
of this book. What different kinds of information does it provide about
each entry word?) This chart gives an idea of the main types of dic-
tionaries you can come across:

Kind of Dictionary       Definition               What It Does
Pocket dictionary        very small dictionary    It contains a limited
                         (usually paperback)      number of words and
School dictionary        dictionary aimed at      It has fewer entries
                         elementary school        than a college dic-
                         students                 nary. Usually, it has
                                                  many pictures.
College dictionary       dictionary for middle    It contains many more
                         school students and      entries than school
                         beyond                   dictionaries and offers
                                                  etymologies (word his-
                                                  tories), usage notes,
                                                  synonyms, and
Unabridged dictionary big, fat dictionary         It contains more defin-
                      (close to three             itions than a college
                      thousand pages) that        dictionary, fuller ety-
                      contains more than          mologies, and citations
                      450,000 entry words         (quoted sentences or
                                                  phrases using the entry
                                                   Use Your Tools     39

Kind of Dictionary      Definition                What It Does
Online dictionary       dictionary you can        It provides informa-
                        access online             tion electronically.
Specialized dictionary dictionary of words        Examples include a
                       related to a particular    dictionary of sports
                       subject                    terms, a dictionary of
                                                  slang words, and a

                                             College Dictionary
                                             Even though you’re not
                                             in college, it’s a good
                                             idea to buy a college
                                             dictionary now to use
                                             at home. You can use
                                             a college dictionary
                                             now, in high school, in
                                             college, and for the rest
                                             of your adult life.
 40          How to Build a Super Vocabulary

The Dictionary Entry
Dictionaries provide a great deal of information. Look at the
following sample entry for the word sagacity:

                                                           pronunciation, show-
entry word              sa·gac·i·ty (suh·GAS ·uh·tee) n.   ing accented syllable.
                                                           You will find a guide
syllable division       [Fr sagacité < L sagacitas]        to pronunciation
etymology                                                  symbols, usually in
                        showing intelligence and good      the lower right-hand
(word’s history)
                        judgment. SYN. SHREWDNESS          corner of each page.
                                                           part of speech
related forms           —sagacious adj.
                        —sa·ga´cious·ly adv.

    A dictionary entry may offer many more kinds of information:
      G   Usage notes tell you how—or when—a word is used. Here are
          some common usage labels:
            arch. = archaic (no longer used)
            Brit. (British) = British
            colloq. = colloquial (highly informal)
            slang = specialized vocabulary (highly informal)
      G   Subject labels indicate that a definition is from Music, Biology,
          Radio, Grammar, Mechanics, or any other specialized field.
      G   Citations show the word in context, usually in a sentence or
          phrase. A citation is enclosed in brackets or set off from the
          entry with some other punctuation mark. Sometimes the source
          of the citation is identified:
            <a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind
            —Sigmund Freud>
                                            Use Your Tools   41

          Model Pronunciation Key
   Dictionaries tell you how to pronounce words.
Look for the pronunciation in parentheses right after
the entry word. The pronunciation may contain some
special symbols, but don’t worry. Dictionaries place a
pronunciation key—a guide to the pronunciation
marks and symbols—on the bottom of every two-page
spread. It may look something like this:

          a as in at; a as in play; ä as in cot;
          e as in ten; e as in even; i as in is;
          – as in ice; o as in go; ô as in all;
          oo as in look; oo as in boot; oi as                     4
          in oil; ou as in out; ŋ as in ring;
          u as in mud; u as in her; as in
          ago; sh as in shell; ch as in chew;
          th as in thin; th as in then; zh as
          in measure.
 42        How to Build a Super Vocabulary

      G    Antonyms are words that mean the opposite of an entry word.

      G    Irregular comparative forms of modifiers are shown after the
           entry word:
              good adj. better, best

      G   The main forms of irregular verbs are shown:
             lie vi. lay (past) lain (past participle) lying
             (present participle)

   The keys use phonetic respellings to show the pronunciation of a
word. Read the pronunciation just as you would read an English word.
The accented syllable is the one that’s capitalized.

           mayor (MAY·er) plasma (PLAHZ·muh) radio (RAY·dee·oh)

Dictionary Entries with Multiple Meanings
Most dictionary entries provide more than one definition, and
each definition is numbered. Whenever a word functions as
more than one part of speech, the meanings are separated and identi-
fied according to part of speech, as in the sample entry below:

                  men·tor (MEN·tor or MEN·ter) [L < Gr
                  Mentor, literally adviser. In Greek mythol-
                  ogy, friend and adviser to Odysseus, hero
                  of w Odyssey, and teacher of Odysseus’s
                  son Telemachus] —n. 1. a wise and trusted
                  adviser 2. a teacher or coach —vt., vi.
                  mentor to serve as a mentor; to teach or
                  advise. —men´tor·ship n.
                                                Use Your Tools        43

   When you look up an unfamiliar word with multiple meanings, how
can you choose the “right” meaning? Try out the different meanings in
the context, and choose the meaning that fits best.

      The agency’s goal is to recruit 150 new mentors for the Boys’
      and Girls’ Club after-school program.

      Mr. Hugh B. Corlett, an English teacher, patiently mentored the
      staff of the Kirk Spectator, our school newspaper.

 44    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

The Thesaurus and How It Works
Thesaurus (thuh·SORE·us) comes from a Greek word that means
“treasure,” and a thesaurus really is a treasure-house of words.
Thesauri (that’s the plural form) are books of synonyms. They’re par-
ticularly useful to writers, who search for different ways to express the
same idea in order to avoid unnecessary repetition. A thesaurus looks
something like a dictionary, but it works in a different way.
    Peter Mark Roget (1779–1869), an English doctor, published the
first thesaurus in 1852. For almost fifty years he’d been working on a
catalog of words grouped according to their meaning. For Roget his
thesaurus was a hobby, but when it was published, it sold well.
    Here’s how a thesaurus works. It’s a two-step process. First, you
look up a word in the index, which usually takes up more than a quar-
ter of the book. Say you’re looking for synonyms for jar. Here’s what
you might find in the index:

                   n. container 47.8
                    conflict 102.11
                    shake 234.6
                    surprise 792.8
                   v. sound unharmonious 142.7
                    clash 102.09
                    disagree 102.01
                    preserve 52.1
                    shake 146.8
                    surprise 792.9
                                                  Use Your Tools   45

    Suppose you want synonyms for jar as a noun, in the sense of the
verb shake. You turn to the number for the subentry shake (146.8), and
this is what you find:

               146.8 shake, quake, quiver, tremble,
                     shiver, shudder; jolt; jerk, twitch;
                     bounce, bump.

    Use synonyms wisely. Synonyms are words that mean the same or
almost the same as another word. For example, amiable and affable
are synonyms that mean “friendly and easygoing.” They can be used in-
terchangeably in this sentence:

      Jermaine is the most _________ of all my friends.

   But synonyms are not exactly alike. To help users see the shades of   K
meaning among synonyms, dictionaries sometimes have synonymies at
the end of an entry. Here’s an example of a synonymy that discusses
amiable and three of its synonyms:

                SYN. —Amiable implies friendliness
                and cheerfulness; affable suggests that
                a person is easy to talk to. Someone
                who is genial is both cheerful and
                sociable [the genial talk-show host];
                cordial is somewhat more formal, sug-
                gesting graciousness and warmth <a
                cordial invitation>.
46       How to Build a Super Vocabulary

                          Using Your Tools
1. For each italicized word, check a college dictionary to see
   which definition best fits the context:
     GThe Supreme Court is expected to give a definitive ruling
      on the case this fall.
   G Everyone joined in singing the ballad’s refrain.
   G On the Ellis Island Web site, we found my great-
      grandfather’s name on a ship’s manifest.
   G Because of the electrical storm, the radio station could
      not transmit for several hours.
2. How much information can you find about each of these
   words? Compare the coverage in two different dictionaries.
   Which dictionary do you prefer? Why?
             apex       hurricane       pretzel      pun
3. Use a thesaurus to look up each of the italicized words. For
   each sentence, list all of the synonyms you can find that you
   think fit the meaning of the sentence. Compare your lists of
   synonyms with your classmates’ lists.
     G   Amra hurried down the street, trying to catch her bus.
     G   Whenever I tell Sam a joke, he always laughs.
     G   “Please turn down the volume on that radio,” Aunt Lena
     G   A tall young man in a black leather jacket walked into
         the cafeteria.
        KEY 5
 Why You Want to Use Words Correctly
 Commonly Confused Words
 Troublesome Words

       As you learn new words, get
       into the habit of using them
       when you write and speak.
       The more words you own, the
       richer you’ll be.

          ou can say that you “own” a word only when you can com-
          fortably work it into your writing or speaking. If you regularly
          practice using some of the words in the mini-dictionary at
the back of this book, by the end of the school year, you may own
them all.
 48    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Why You Want to Use Words Correctly
What’s wrong with these sentences?
    Trina has a guilty conscious.
    Have you seen Evilio’s new Web cite?
    Ooops—that should be conscience in the first sentence and site in
the second. You want to use words precisely to communicate your
thoughts clearly, so people know what you’re talking about. When you
write, you also want to use—and spell—your words correctly so that
readers are impressed with what you know. Mistakes are embarrassing,
and teachers take off points for wrong or misspelled words. If you’re in
doubt, double-check the spelling of a word in a dictionary or “The
Ultimate Word List” at the back of this book.

Commonly Confused Words
By now you know when to choose to, too, or two. You also know
when to use bad (as an adjective) and badly (as an adverb).
English has lots of word pairs that people mix up—words that sound
similar but have different meanings. Learn when and how to use these
commonly confused word pairs:

accede, exceed Use accede to mean “to agree to something” or “to
give in.” Exceed means “to go beyond a limit” or “to be greater than.”

      The city council acceded to residents’ demands for better street

      Speeding fines are doubled if you exceed the speed limit near a

accept, except Accept is a verb that means “to agree to” or “to receive
willingly.” Except is a preposition that means “but.”
                                             Tackle the Tough Ones       49

       Lauren will accept the award for the best original oil painting.

       Everyone in the family was at the wedding except Jim and Patti.

adapt, adopt Both of these words are verbs. Adapt means “to adjust”
or “to make changes in order to fit.” Adopt means “to choose” or “to
take for oneself.” Adopt is most often used to refer to a child’s being
legally made part of a new family.

       It took a few weeks for the puppy to adapt to her new home.

       Kim has four brothers and sisters; two of them are adopted.

affect, effect Affect is a verb that means “to have an effect on; to in-
fluence.” Effect can be both a noun and a verb. As a noun, effect means
“the result of some cause or action.” As a verb, effect means “to cause”
or “to bring about a change.”

       How will the company’s move affect your mom’s job?

       One of the effects is that she will have a longer trip into the city.

       Studying hard may effect an improvement in your grade.
capital, capitol The noun capital is the city where the state or na-
tional government meets. (Capital also refers to an uppercase letter.)
The capitol is the actual building in which a state legislature or the U.S.    5
Congress meets. Think of the o in capitol as the dome on the building.

       Can you name the capitals of Georgia and Tennessee?

       We visited the beautiful capitol building in Annapolis, Maryland.

compliment, complement The noun compliment means “words of
praise or admiration.” As a verb, compliment means “to say words of
praise or admiration to someone.” Complement, on the other hand, has
nothing to do with praise. A complement is “something that completes
a whole.”
 50    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

      It’s always better to receive a compliment than an insult.

      What color carpet do you think will complement the furniture in
      this room?

conscious, conscience You can use the adjective conscious to de-
scribe someone who’s alert and awake. Conscious also means “aware.”
Conscience, a noun, is that part of your mind that makes you feel guilty
when you do something wrong.

      Geri was fully conscious an hour after her appendix was

      Parents try to teach their children to have a conscience.
                                           Tackle the Tough Ones       51

farther, further Farther means “more distant.” Further means “to a
greater extent or degree.” To keep these two words straight, think of
the far in farther.

       Helena bicycled three miles farther than Sam.

       Larry suggested that we discuss the problem further at the next

immigrate, emigrate You emigrate
from, and you immigrate to. You
emigrate from your home to live per-
manently in another country. You
immigrate to a new country to
become a permanent resident.                  Stationary and
       My great-grandfather emigrated           Stationery
       from Russia at the age of twelve.
                                            Stationary means “not
       By 1905, his whole family had        moving; in a fixed
       immigrated to America.               position.” Stationery is
                                            writing paper.
site, cite A site is a specific place or                                    E
location. Cite is a verb meaning “to        She rides her stationary        Y
give credit to a source.”                   bike for fifteen minutes        5
                                            every morning.
       Alan explored the Web site of
       the National Aeronautics and         Andie is writing her
       Space Administration.                thank-you notes on light
                                            blue stationery.
       In his research paper, he cited
       Web pages of several govern-         How can you remember
       ment agencies. Think of the          which is which? Write a
       Works Cited list in your re-         letter on stationery.
       search paper.
 52    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Pronouncing a word correctly can help you spell it right. Here
are some common words that are often mispronounced. The
underscored letters mark the trouble spots where spelling mistakes
most often occur.

accidentally Don’t make the mistake of mispronouncing this word
“accidently.” The suffix -ly is added to the adjective form accidental
(not to the noun accident):

       accidental    -ly   accidentally

government Pronounce the letter n, so you’ll remember to spell this
word correctly.

       govern     -ment    government

laboratory The preferred pronunciation sounds that first o. You labor
in a laboratory.

library If you don’t pronounce the letter r, you’re likely to spell this
word incorrectly. Think of libros, the Spanish word for “books.”

mathematics Many people mistakenly forget the e when they say and
spell this word. Pronounce the e so you spell it right.

miniature Don’t leave out the a. If you pronounce the a (the preferred
pronunciation), you’ll remember to include it when you spell the word.

mischievous Some people make the mistake of adding an extra i after
the v. It’s (MIS·chuh·vus), not (mis·CHEE·vee·us).

       mischief     -ous   mischievous (Note that the final f changes to
       a v.)
                                          Tackle the Tough Ones       53

temperamental Someone who’s temperamental is easily upset or ex-
cited. To spell this word correctly, make a point of pronouncing the a
in the middle of the word.

       temperament     -al   temperamental

vacuum When you push a vacuum cleaner, you’re pushing one c and
two u’s. Vacuum is pronounced several different ways, but the preferred
pronunciation will help you remember the two u’s: (VAK·yoo·um).

Troublesome Words
The English language has many words that seem designed to
cause trouble. Among those pesky words are irregular
plurals and words that sound alike or look alike but have different

Homophones: They Sound Alike
Pair and pear, your and you’re, are homophones—words that sound
alike but are spelled differently. These troublesome word pairs (or
triplets, such as to, too, and two) cause you grief only when you write.   Y
When you’re talking, no one can tell which word you’re using, since the
words in a pair sound alike. Some words may not be homophones in
some dialects. For example, some people may say these three words in
the same way: bear, bare, beer. Other people might say those words
    Can you define the italicized words—they’re homophones—in these
sentences? Think about what each word means.
   G   The bold young bowler bowled two strikes on her first game.

   G   From the top stair, we could stare down at the party.
54   How to Build a Super Vocabulary

                              Irregular Plurals
        One bus goes by, and then you see two more
     buses—or is it busses? You can find irregular plural
     forms of nouns listed in a dictionary, right after the
     part-of-speech entry. Here, for example, is the begin-
     ning of an entry for bus:

             bus (BUS) n., pl. buses or busses

         Notice that both plural spellings are okay, but the
     first spelling listed in a dictionary is often the preferred
     one. So you’d write buses. Whenever you’re in doubt
     about a noun’s plural form, check a dictionary.
         Most nouns form their plural by adding -s or -es to
     the singular form. But many nouns don’t perform so
     simply. Here are some types of irregular plurals, what
     to do when you meet one, and some examples:
     Type of Irregular Plural   What to Do          Example
     Nouns that change form     Memorize these.     child, children;
                                                    mouse, mice;
                                                    foot, feet; ox, oxen
     Foreign nouns              Check a dictionary. alumnus, alumni
     Compound nouns             Make the most       sons-in-law;
                                important word      sixth-graders;
                                plural.             twelve-year-olds
     Nouns with the same          Check a dictionary. three fish; two
     form for singular and plural                     deer; many moose
     Nouns that have no         Check a dictionary. politics, species, news
     singular form
     Numbers and letters        Add an apostrophe   three 6’s; two m’s
                                and s
                                         Tackle the Tough Ones     55

   G   Of course you need to use coarse sandpaper to smooth new

   G   My aunt shrieked when she saw the ant sampling her fresh-
       baked pie.

   G   Tony billed us for the deck we asked him to build.

   G   Many a fowl died when the chicken-house roof collapsed after
       days of foul weather.

Homographs: They Look Alike
Just to make things more interesting—and more complicated—English
has look-alike words with altogether different meanings. These are
called homographs (from homo-, same -graph, writing). Homographs
come in pairs. They’re spelled exactly alike, but they have different
meanings and often have different pronunciations. There are, for exam-
ple, two kinds of sewers. Which one is the (SO·er), and which is the
    Aunt Edna, who makes all her clothes, is a sewer of great skill.
    The tennis ball bounced out of the court and rolled into a sewer.    K
    Here are some more homographs. How would you pronounce each          Y
italicized word?
   A mysterious object hung from the ceiling.
   Do you object to this plan?

   Julio signed the sales contract for the car.
   People who contract viral pneumonia run a high fever and feel
very sick.
56   How to Build a Super Vocabulary

                   Using Words Correctly
1. You Know These Word Pairs. Choose three of the commonly
   confused word pairs below. Define each word in the pair,
   and use it in a sentence.
      beside, besides        lay, lie
      between, among         learn, teach
      borrow, lend           lend, loan
      bring, take            principal, principle
      good, well             real, really
2. More Homographs. Think of how the words in each of these
   word pairs can have altogether different meanings. How
   does their pronunciation change? Use a dictionary for help.
        minute, minute bass, bass
        wound, wound refuse, refuse
        invalid, invalid dove, dove
3. More Homophones. What’s the difference between the
   words in these word pairs? Look up their meaning in a
   dictionary, and write a sentence for each word.
        insight, incite   ascent, assent   faint, feint
       KEY 6
 Memory Tips
 Making a Personal Word Collection
 Expand Your Vocabulary
    While You Read

      A new hobby or interest gives
      you a whole new vocabulary,
      the specialized vocabulary of
      its equipment and procedures.

          s you grow taller and older and stronger, your vocabulary
          grows along with you. Print materials (books, magazines,
          and newspapers) and TV and radio continuously bombard
you with new words.
 58       How to Build a Super Vocabulary

    Your vocabulary is an important measure of your verbal abilities. In
fact, the standardized tests you take usually include a section just for
the sake of seeing how strong your vocabulary is. Here’s an example:

          Directions: Choose the best synonym for the underlined word.
          (a) liquid   (b) measure      (c) wealth   (d) importance

   The answer—did you know it?—is (c) wealth. This chapter shows
you some strategies for turning challenging words into words you
own—words that you can use correctly and easily when you speak
and write.

Memory Tips
By now you’ve discovered a lot of new words and learned good
strategies for figuring out their meaning. But how do you
“keep” a new vocabulary word? How do you make it part of your work-
ing vocabulary? Try these strategies for remembering the meaning of
new words.

Make Up a Sentence
Mnemonics (nuh·MON·iks), named for the Greek goddess of memory,
is a system for improving your memory. (For example, the sentence
Every Good Boy Does Fine is a mnemonic for remembering the musi-
cal notes on the lines of the treble clef, from bottom to top.) Invent a
sentence—either funny or serious—that helps you remember a word’s
meaning. Here are some examples:
      G   A garden slug moves sluggishly—very, very slowly or not
          at all.
                                            Build Your Vocabulary        59

   G   Max was freezing, so he piled on the maximum number of

   G   The S.S. Titanic was a titanic—gigantic ship.

   G   A caterpillar transforms itself into a butterfly, an altogether
       different form.

   G   The two l’s in the middle of parallel form parallel lines.

  In a confusing word pair, a sentence can help you remember which
word is which.
   G   Letters are written on stationery.

   G   Look at the golden dome on the capitol building.

Draw Your Word
Do a sketch that helps you visualize a word’s meaning. You don’t have
to draw well to do this—stick figures are fine. For example, print the
word jovial in large letters and draw a happy smile in the o. Write
dissect, and sketch a knife down the middle of the word. Write enigma
on a jigsaw puzzle piece.

Use Flash Cards
Remember flash cards? You can make them from index cards or even
small pieces of paper. On one side, write a new word you want to re-
 60    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

member. On the other side, write a definition and example sentence.
Give yourself ten minutes to memorize the definitions in a pile of cards;
then test yourself. If you can’t remember a word’s meaning, turn over
the card and look. Make a separate pile of the words you have trouble
remembering. Keep reviewing those flash cards until you can easily
recall each word’s meaning.

Listen to Your Voice
One of the ways you can learn is by listening. Write the word and its
definition; then say them aloud to yourself. Make up a new sentence
using the word in context, and listen to yourself as you say the sen-
tence. Listening to your own voice reinforces your learning. Saying the
words out loud helps, too.

Making a Personal Word Collection
Your teacher may assign new vocabulary words, or you may
choose them from your reading. Keep a vocabulary journal in
a separate notebook or a special section in your notebook. (In your
vocabulary journal, you’ll record new words that you learn, along with
their definitions and an example sentence.) You can even keep your
vocabulary journal as a separate document on your computer. In your
vocabulary journal, include useful words, words that appeal to you,
technical terms, colorful words, strong verbs, and specific nouns. You
can even draw a picture of what the word reminds you of or use clip
art. Be sure to include any words that tend to be personal trouble spots
for you.
    Jessie found the word inflammatory in a novel she was reading.
Here’s her vocabulary journal entry:
                                                    Build Your Vocabulary         61

                            Vocabulary Journal Entry

     Word: inflammatory
     Part of speech: adj.
     Meaning: causing anger, violence, or great
     What I know about the word: It seems to be related to INFLAME, “setting on
     fire,” and FLAME, “fire.”
     Sample sentence: The audience booed the speaker’s INFLAMMATORY remarks.

    Another way to learn and remember a new word is to make a word
map, like the one below. If you work with a partner or small group,
talk about a word before you map it:

                                       Word Map

  culprit n. someone accused or found guilty of a crime or offense.
  What do I know about the word?
  • It’s not good to be called a culprit.
  • It means you’re in trouble.
  Who could be called a culprit?
  • someone who steals
  • someone who tricks someone else
  • someone who’s responsible for another person’s injury                              K
  What’s the opposite of a culprit?                                                    E
  • a hero                                                                             Y
  • someone who helps or saves others
  What are some synonyms for culprit?
  • villain
  • offender
  My original sentence: When we found the rug chewed up, we knew that Maggie,
  our German shepherd puppy, was the culprit.
62   How to Build a Super Vocabulary

                           Group Names
          Collective nouns refer to whole groups of persons
      or animals. Team, jury, crowd, and crew are collective
      nouns that refer to people. The collective nouns that
      refer to groups of animals are fun to learn and use.
      Here are a few examples. Can you find more?

         gaggle of geese      colony of ants
         pride of lions       swarm of bees
         school of fish       troop of kangaroos
         pod of whales        clutch of chicks
                                         Build Your Vocabulary     63

Expand Your Vocabulary While You Read
In Chapter 3, you practiced using context clues to guess a word’s
meaning. Chapter 2 showed how analyzing a word’s root, prefix,
and suffix can help you determine its meaning. Book publishers also
try to give you a lot of help. You often
find footnotes at the bottom of a page
and a glossary (a specialized mini-
dictionary) at the back of a book.
Important terms are almost always
boldfaced (set in dark type) and
include a definition in context. If you     Word Games for
still aren’t sure you know a word’s           Big Gains
meaning, stop and use a dictionary or
ask someone what the word means.            If you like to play word
     The best way to build your vocabu-     games, you can build
lary is to read and read and read some      your vocabulary by
more. Read all kinds of books for fun.      doing crossword puz-
Read the kinds of books that you like       zles just for fun. You
best. Read articles in magazines and        can do them alone, but
newspapers. Read what appeals to            they’re more fun when
you. Read online articles and Web           two or more people
sites. Make the time to read, read, and     work together to guess      K
read. Every time you meet an unfamil-       the clues. You’ll find      E
iar word in context—and context is          crossword puzzles in        Y
the important part—you sharpen your         daily newspapers and        6
ability to learn and remember words         in many magazines.
and their meaning.
64       How to Build a Super Vocabulary

                      Building Your Vocabulary
1. Choose five unfamiliar and challenging words from the
   mini-dictionary at the back of this book. To learn and
   remember the words, try using the vocabulary-building
   suggestions in this chapter:
     G  Make a vocabulary journal entry.
    G Make a word map.
   ∑G Do a sketch of the word’s meaning.
    ∑G Make up a sentence that includes the word’s meaning.
     ∑G Make a flash card of the word and its meanings.
2. Choose a book from the library that you haven’t read be-
   fore. As you read it, write down unfamiliar words whose
   meaning you can’t guess from the context. Stop reading
   when you’ve listed five words. Then, look up each word
   in a dictionary, and write a vocabulary journal entry for
   each one.
     KEY 7
 Substitute Livelier Words
 Avoid Repetition and Redundancy
 Avoid Overused Words and Clichés

      So you’ve added many
      new words to your vocab-
      ulary from your reading.
      Now what will you do
      with them?

        ake a special effort to use new words when you write and
        speak. When you do, you sound more interesting, and your
        ideas sound more grown-up.
 66    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

Substitute Livelier Words
As you acquire new words, you can start to replace the same
old words with livelier ones. Say you’re describing some-
thing you see—a girl walking down the street. You might write or say:

          A girl is walking down the street.

   But that doesn’t give the reader or listener a clear picture. If you
choose precise words and add some details, you can make the scene
come alive:

          A redheaded girl in blue overalls is sauntering down a tree-
          lined street.

    Sauntered is much more precise than walked. It describes a particu-
lar kind of slow, leisurely walk—the opposite of hurried. When writing,
use specific, lively words instead of dull, general words.
                                                  Use the Best Words       67

    Now you try it. For each of the sentences below, add details and
precise, lively words to create a clear, interesting picture for the reader.
       The boy and his dog played with a ball.
       The sound was very loud.
       We went into the water.
    When using words in a more refined and precise way, you can also
cut down on the number of words you need. One word can be better
than many. A single precise word can replace many words, as in the
following sentences:

   I hurried as fast as I could to the door.
   She tried to stop the twins from fighting and calm them down.
   Loud applause greeted the person who was going to play the piano.

Avoid Repetition and Redundancy
If a teacher says that your work is wordy, that’s not a
compliment. Don’t repeat yourself unnecessarily. Say it once,
and say it clearly.
           WORDY Whenever Tara feels nervous, she starts coughing
        nervously and clearing her throat in a nervous sort of way.
           CLEAR Whenever Tara feels nervous, she starts coughing
        and clearing her throat.
    When writers use many more words than they need, they’re often              K
being redundant, or repetitive. Tighten your writing to get rid of the          E
excess. Search for just-right nouns and precise verbs.                          Y
68   How to Build a Super Vocabulary

          Editing is another word for revising. It’s a step
      in the writing process—the one that comes after
      drafting. As you revise, or edit, your writing, you
      focus on improving it. Basically, you do three things
      when you edit:
          G   delete (take out) unnecessary words, sen-
              tences, details, paragraphs
          G   insert stronger words, sentences, details,
          G   move or replace words, sentences, details,
              and paragraphs to clarify logic or meaning
                                                 Use the Best Words      69

             REDUNDANT Julio held his bat as tightly as he could hold
         it and bobbed it up and down in a nervous sort of way as he
         watched the pitcher go through all the motions of winding up
         before he threw the curve ball that he was famous for over
         home plate.
             CLEAR Julio gripped the bat tightly and bobbed it up and
         down nervously as he watched the pitcher wind up and pitch
         his famous curve ball.

Avoid Overused Words and Clichés
Some words are so overused that they’re tired—no, they’re
exhausted. Avoid these overused words when you write:

 Overused Word          Possible Substitutes

 very                   extremely, quite, extraordinarily, exceedingly
                        (or just leave it out)

 nice                   agreeable, pleasant, delightful, attractive,

 good                   excellent, enjoyable, pleasant, fine, splendid

 bad                    disappointing, unsatisfactory, inadequate,
                        faulty, harmful

 terrible               horrible, unacceptable, unpleasant,
                        disagreeable, dreadful

 wonderful              marvelous, amazing, excellent, fine, enjoyable
 great                  excellent, fine, magnificent, splendid,               E
                        enjoyable                                             Y
 70    How to Build a Super Vocabulary

    A cliché (klee·SHAY) is an expres-
sion that’s stale from overuse. Quiet
as a mouse, white as snow, cool as a
cucumber are examples. You can
probably think of many others. Notice
that many clichés compare two unlike
things. When you’re writing or speak-           Watch Your
ing, try to express your ideas in a
fresh, new way—without using
overused words or clichés. Sometimes       Very and all of its
that simply means getting specific:        substitutes are called
          CLICHÉ Jeff’s kitten is as       qualifiers. Don’t use
      sweet as sugar.                      qualifiers often. Instead,
          FRESH Jeff’s kitten is so        use strong, precise
      friendly that she curls up on        words that don’t need
      anyone’s lap and purrs.              qualifying:
    Slang is a highly informal kind of     She was extremely
language. There’s nothing wrong with       angry.
using slang when you talk to your          She was furious.
friends: “Hey, man, what’s happening?”
Slang words are fun, and everyone uses
them. But slang is inappropriate when you should be using formal stan-
dard English. Avoid using slang, for example, when you write an essay
or when you speak formally, as in a speech, a debate, or a conversation
with an adult you do not know well.
                                             Use the Best Words       71

                     Using the Best Words
1. Write two paragraphs describing what you see from where
   you are sitting right now. Include many details, and use spe-
   cific nouns and lively verbs. When you finish drafting your
   paragraph, edit it carefully. Ask yourself these questions:
   ∑G Have I used precise and lively nouns and verbs?
    ∑G Have I eliminated any unnecessary repetition?
    ∑G Have I expressed my ideas clearly?
    ∑G Have I eliminated wordiness?
    ∑G Have I replaced overused words?
    ∑G Have I expressed my ideas in a fresh way without
         using clichés?
     ∑ G Have I added enough details to give the reader a clear
2. For each of the following italicized clichés, think of a fresh,
   new way to express the same idea. Write it in a new
          I am so hungry that I could eat a horse.
          “Let’s bury the hatchet,” he said.
          According to Lauren, the biology test is as easy as pie.”
          “I’m at the end of my rope,” she cried. “My computer has
          Raffi’s little sister is as cute as a button.
3. In the mini-dictionary at the back of this book, are defini-
   tions and example sentences for words you should know.
   Many of those words appear on standardized tests. Take a
   look, and see how many of those words you already know.                 K
   How many are completely new to you? Plan a strategy for                 E
   adding all of those words to your working vocabulary.                   Y
72      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

            Pronunciation Key for the Ultimate Word List

          Vowel Sounds                             Consonant Sounds

Symbol       Key Words                    Symbol      Key Words

   a         at, cap, parrot                b         bed, table, rob
   a         ape, play, sail                d         dog, middle, sad
   ä         cot, father, heart             f         for, phone, cough
   e         ten, wealth, merry             g         get, wiggle, dog
   e         even, feet, money              h         hat, hope, ahead
   i         is, stick, mirror             hw         which, white
   ı         ice, high, sky                 j         joy, badge, agent
  o          go, open, tone                 k         kill, cat, quiet
   ô         all, law, horn                 l         let, yellow, ball
  oo         could, look, pull             m          meet, number, time
 yoo         cure, furious                  n         net, candle, ton
  oo         boot, crew, tune               p         put, sample, escape
 yoo         cute, few, use                 r         red, wrong, born
  oi         boy, oil, royal                s         sit, castle, office
  ou         cow, out, sour                 t         top, letter, cat
   u         mud, ton, blood, trouble       v         voice, every, love
   u         her, sir, word                w          wet, always, quart
   ə         ago, agent, collect, focus     y         yes, canyon, onion
   ’l        cattle, paddle                 z         zoo, misery, rise
  ’n         sudden, sweeten               ch         chew, nature, punch
                                           sh         shell, machine, bush
                                           th         thin, nothing, truth
                                           th         then, other, bathe
                                           zh         beige, measure, seizure
                                                      ring, anger, drink
The mini-dictionary on the following pages contains words that are often found on
standardized tests. Because the publishers of the SAT (Standard Achievement Test)
do not publish a list of the words they use on current tests, the words in this dictio-
nary have been culled from vocabulary lists that appear in several SAT and PSAT test-
preparation books. This mini-dictionary also includes a number of words that were
judged by the editor of the Keys to Success series to be both challenging and appro-
priate for middle school readers.
   Instead of just a word list, each word is given full treatment similar to that in a
standard dictionary entry. Notice that each word has a pronunciation guide and a des-
ignation for part of speech followed by a definition and an example sentence. For
help in pronouncing the entry words, see the pronunciation key on page 72. The cen-
tered dots in each boldfaced entry work indicate where a word can be hyphenated.

ab•bre•vi•ate (ə bre ¯ at´) vt. to
                      ¯´ve ¯                   ab•stract (ab´strakt´) n. a brief state-
   make shorter. The post office                  ment of the essential content of a
   prefers that you abbreviate state              book, article, or speech; summary. I
   names on envelopes.                            have to write a one-paragraph ab-
ab•di•cate (ab´di kat´) vt., vi. to give
                      ¯                           stract of my research paper.
   up formally (a high office, throne,         ab•struse (ab stroos´) adj. hard to un-
   authority). Because he is gravely              derstand because of extreme com-
   ill, the elderly king will abdicate            plexity or abstractness. The guest
   his throne and allow his son to                speaker’s lecture was too abstruse
   rule the country.                              for anyone to understand.
ab•er•ra•tion (ab´ər a´shən) n. a de-
                        ¯                      a•bun•dant (ə bun´dənt) adj. very
   parture from what is right, true, or           plentiful; more than sufficient;
   correct. Grandpa’s speeding ticket             ample. The castaways were lucky
   is the only aberration in his forty-           to find abundant food and fresh
   year record of safe driving.                   water on the island.
a•bridge (ə brij´) vt. to shorten (a           ac•cel•er•ate (ak sel´ər at´) vi. to
   piece of writing) while preserving             move at increasing speed. The dri-
   its substance. Mrs. Lee abridged               ver had to accelerate to pass the
   the lengthy novel by cutting three             slow-moving truck.
   chapters so students could finish           ac•ces•si•ble (ak ses´ə bəl) adj. easy
   reading it before the end of the se-           to approach or enter. Federal law
   mester.                                        now requires buildings to be acces-
                                                  sible to people with physical dis-
*Adapted from Webster’s New World College         abilities.
Dictionary, Fourth Edition.
 74      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

ac•ces•sory (ak ses´ər e n. something
                         ¯)                ad•mi•rable (ad´mə rə bəl) adj. inspir-
   extra; something added to help in a        ing or deserving admiration or
   secondary way. That blue scarf             praise; excellent; splendid. Mrs.
   would be a perfect accessory for           Rodriguez’s effective management
   your red dress.                            and warm approach to students
ac•claim (ə kla m´) vt. to announce
                ¯                             make her an admirable principal.
   with much applause or praise; hail.     a•droit (ə droit´) adj. skillful in a
   The delegates acclaimed the candi-         physical or mental way; clever; ex-
   date as their choice for the next          pert. The detective’s adroit ques-
   president.                                 tioning exposed the inconsisten-
ac•cus•tom (ə kus´təm) vt. To make            cies in the suspect’s account of
   familiar by custom, habit, or use.         what happened.
   My friends are accustomed to            ad•van•ta•geous (ad´van ta´jəs) adj.
   making themselves at home in my            favorable; profitable. Competing on
   living room.                               our home field will be advanta-
a•chieve•ment (ə chev´mənt) n. a              geous for our team.
   thing reached or won, especially by     ad•ver•sary (ad´vər ser´e n. a person
   skill, hard work, or courage. College      who opposes or fights against an-
   scholarships are often awarded             other. Someone who knows all
   based on academic achievement              your secrets can be a dangerous
   and teachers’ recommendations.             adversary.
ac•knowl•edge (ak näl´ij) vt. to show      ad•vo•cate (ad´və kit) n. a person
   recognition. My older brother never        who speaks or writes in support of
   acknowledges me when we pass in            something. As an advocate of edu-
   the school hallways.                       cation, our governor is trying to
ac•qui•esce (ak´we es´) vi. to agree or
                    ¯                         have more money earmarked for
   consent quietly without protest, but       schools.
   without enthusiasm. She acquiesced      aer•i•al (er´e əl) adj. of, for, from, or
   to the veterinarian’s recommenda-          by means of aircraft or flying. You
   tion that her dog be put to sleep.         can see my house from above in
ac•quire (ə kwır´) vt. to get posses-
                  ¯                           the aerial photograph.
   sion of. The corporation was able       aes•thet•ic (es thet´ik) adj. of beauty.
   to acquire the smaller company for         The house that was built atop the
   four million dollars.                      waterfall is an architectural and
a•dept (ə dept´) adj. highly skilled;         aesthetic triumph.
   expert. Elaine and Dave are adept       af•fa•ble (af´ə bəl) adj. pleasant and
   at solving even the most difficult         easy to approach or talk to;
   crossword puzzles.                         friendly. Everybody enjoys being
ad•e•quate (ad´i kwət) adj. barely sat-       around my grandmother because
   isfactory; acceptable but not re-          she is so affable.
   markable. Our campsite is ade-          af•fec•tion•ate (ə fek´shən it) adj. full
   quate, though it doesn’t have a            of affection; tender and loving. A
   view of the lake.                          mother’s affectionate hugs help a
ad•journ (ə jurn´) vi. to close a ses-        baby feel loved and secure.
   sion or meeting for a time. Congress    af•fir•ma•tion (af´ər ma ¯´shən) n. posi-
   adjourned for the summer.                  tive declaration. I appreciated my
                                               The Ultimate Word List             75

   teacher’s comments as an affirma-            great desire to succeed. Peter is ex-
   tion of my hard work.                        tremely ambitious and will gradu-
ag•gres•sive (ə gres´iv) adj. tending           ate from college in just three years.
   to start fights or quarrels. Mother       am•biv•a•lence (am biv´ə ləns) n. si-
   bears become aggressive whenever             multaneous conflicting feelings to-
   someone or something threatens               ward a person or thing, such as love
   their cubs.                                  and hate. My brother’s ambivalence
a•lac•ri•ty (ə lak´rə te) n. eager will-
                        ¯                       toward cats comes from his liking
   ingness or readiness, often mani-            but also being allergic to them.
   fested by quick, lively action. The       a•mel•io•rate (ə me l´yə rat´) vt. to
                                                                   ¯      ¯
   new employee completed the as-               make or become better; improve.
   signment with an alacrity that               Spending more time on my home-
   earned the manager’s praise.                 work helped to ameliorate the prob-
al•ien•ate (a        ¯
              ¯l´yən at´) vt. to make un-       lems I was having in algebra class.
   friendly; estrange. I inadvertently       a•me•na•ble (ə me ´nə bəl) adj. able to
   alienated her by forgetting her              be controlled or influenced; respon-
   birthday.                                    sive; submissive. I was amenable to
al•lege (ə lej´) vt. to assert positively,      the idea of leaving early since the
   or declare; affirm; especially, to           lecture was so dull.
   assert without proof. Several people      a•mend•ment (ə mend´mənt) n. a
   alleged that the defendant was               change for the better; improvement.
   guilty of the crime, though none             An amendment was added to the
   had actually witnessed it.                   union contract to improve the
al•le•vi•ate (ə le ´ve at´) vt. to make
                  ¯ ¯ ¯                         workers’ conditions.
   less hard to bear; lighten or relieve     am•i•ty (am´i te ) n. friendly, peaceful
   (pain, suffering). New techniques            relations, as between nations;
   and medications help alleviate pa-           friendship. After the city council
   tients’ pain following surgery.              settled the neighbors’ feud, a spirit
a•loof (ə loof´) adj. distant; removed.         of amity returned to the neighbor-
   The woman’s aloof manner made                hood.
   it impossible to have a friendly          a•mor•phous (ə mo     ˆr´fəs) adj. without
   conversation.                                definite form; shapeless. As chil-
al•tru•is•tic (al´troo is´tik) adj. un-         dren, we liked to lie outside and
   selfish. Are we really being altruis-        imagine animal shapes in the
   tic when we help others, or do we            amorphous clouds.
   do it for our own sake, because it        a•nal•o•gous (ə nal´ə gəs) adj. similar
   makes us feel good?                          or comparable in certain respects. In
am•big•u•ous (am big´yoo əs) adj.               many ways, learning to snow board
   not clear; indefinite; uncertain;            is analogous to learning to surf.
   vague. The candidate’s ambiguous          a•nat•o•my (ə nat´ə me n. the study
   statements left everyone wonder-             of the form and structure of ani-
   ing where he stands on important             mals or plants. In biology class, we
   issues.                                      studied frog anatomy by watching
am•bi•tious (am bish´əs) adj. showing           a video.
   a strong desire to gain a particular      an•cil•lary (an´sə ler´e adj. serving as
   objective; specifically, having a            an aid; auxiliary. Lawyers may
 76      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

  consult ancillary sources when            ap•o•gee (ap´ə je ´) n. the point far-
  the information they have is in-             thest from the earth in the orbit of
  sufficient.                                  the moon or of a man-made satellite.
an•ec•dote (an´ik dot´) n. a short,
                      ¯                        When the moon is at its apogee, its
  entertaining account of some hap-            movement slows slightly.
  pening, usually personal or bio-          ap•pease (ə pe z´) vt. to pacify or
  graphical. The writer began her talk         quiet, especially by giving in to the
  with an anecdote about writing her           demands of. The father appeased
  first poem at the age of five.               his screaming two-year-old by
an•i•mat•ed (an´i mat´id) adj. expres-
                       ¯                       buying her candy.
  sive in a lively way. My dad’s ani-       a•quar•i•um (ə kwer´e əm) n. a tank,
  mated account of his adventures              usually with glass sides, for keeping
  in Paris riveted everyone’s atten-           live water animals and water plants.
  tion.                                        At the Chinese restaurant, Ryan
an•nex (an´eks´) n. something added            likes to sit next to the saltwater
  on or attached, especially a smaller         aquarium and watch the fish.
  item to a larger one. The gymna-          ar•bi•trar•y (är´bə trer´e ) adj. not
  sium annex will provide the extra            fixed by rules, but left to one’s judg-
  room we need for the dance.                  ment or choice. The teacher was
an•tag•o•nism (an tag´ə niz´əm) n.             unpopular because her decisions
  hostility. During the debates, the           so often seemed arbitrary.
  candidates’ antagonism for each           ar•cha•ic (är ka´ik) adj. old-fashioned.
  other became increasingly obvious.           Words like thee and thou are con-
an•ti•dote (ant´ə dot´) n. a remedy to
                     ¯                         sidered archaic because most peo-
  work against or neutralize the ef-           ple no longer use them.
  fects of a poison. There is no            ar•id (ar´id) adj. dry. The arid cli-
  known antidote to the venom of               mate of the southwestern United
  some snakes.                                 States makes it a healthy environ-
an•tip•a•thy (an tip´ə the ) n. strong or
                           ¯                   ment for people who suffer from
  deep-rooted dislike. Joe can’t ex-           respiratory ailments.
  plain his antipathy for all red           ar•ro•gance (ar´ə gəns) n. overbearing
  foods.                                       pride or self-importance. Alfred is
an•tique (an te k´) n. an item, such as
                ¯                              so forceful and confident that some
  a piece of furniture, made in a for-         people accuse him of arrogance.
  mer period, generally more than           ar•tic•u•late (är tik´yoo lit) adj. ex-
  one hundred years ago. My great-             pressing oneself easily and clearly.
  great-grandmother’s portrait is              The White House press secretary
  now a valuable antique.                      must be articulate and able to re-
an•tith•e•sis (an tith´ə sis) n. the           spond easily to reporters’ questions.
  exact opposite. To her dismay, Ella       ar•ti•fact (ärt´ə fakt´) n. an object
  found her roommate the antithesis            made by human labor, especially a
  of her hopes.                                primitive tool or weapon. The mu-
ap•a•thy (ap´ə the ) n. lack of emotion.
                   ¯                           seum displayed various artifacts
  He makes no attempt to conceal his           from prehistoric times, including
  apathy toward all things political.          tools and weapons.
                                              The Ultimate Word List            77

as•sid•u•ous (ə sij´oo əs) adj. done        aug•ment (o ment´) vt. to make
   with constant and careful attention.        greater, as in size, quantity, or
   Newborn babies demand assidu-               strength; enlarge. We had to aug-
   ous care because they are so help-          ment our research by interviewing
   less and delicate.                          more people and consulting addi-
as•so•ci•ate (ə sosh´e it) n. a partner,
                   ¯   ¯                       tional sources.
   friend, or colleague. The law firm       aus•tere (o stir´) adj. very plain; lack-
   held a farewell luncheon for its            ing ornament or luxury. The pio-
   summer associates.                          neers’ austere lifestyle seems diffi-
as•suage (ə swaj´) vt. to lessen pain
                 ¯                             cult, but it teaches us a lot about
   or distress. My offer to help did           living simply.
   nothing to assuage my friend’s           au•thor•i•tar•i•an (ə tho ter´e ən) n.
                                                                       ˆr´ə    ¯
   grief over her dog’s death.                 a person who advocates, practices,
as•ton•ish•ment (ə stän´ish mənt) n.           or enforces strict obedience. Mrs.
   the state of being greatly amazed.          Karn, a no-nonsense authoritar-
   You can imagine my astonishment             ian, requires her piano students to
   when I heard that my best friend            practice thirty minutes a day.
   would appear on a TV show.               au•to•bi•og•ra•phy (o ¯ bı ägrafe n.
                                                                    ˆt´o ¯       ¯)
as•tron•o•my (ə strän´ə me n. the
                             ¯)                the story of one’s own life written
   science that studies the universe, in-      or dictated by oneself. When I
   cluding the stars, planets, and other       write my autobiography, I will
   heavenly bodies. While he was tak-          focus on my years as a teenager.
   ing a course in astronomy, he stud-      au•ton•o•mous (o tän´ə-məs) adj. hav-
   ied the stars through his telescope.        ing self-government or functioning
as•tute (ə stoot´) adj. having or              independently of others’ control.
   showing a clever or shrewd mind;            During the American Revolution,
   cunning; crafty. An astute thinker          some leaders spoke eloquently in
   can quickly analyze and solve a             favor of an autonomous govern-
   complex problem.                            ment, while others remained loyal
a•sy•lum (ə sı´ləm) n. a place where
               ¯                               to England.
   one is safe and secure; a refuge.        av•a•rice (av´ə ris) n. an excessive de-
   The cathedral offered asylum to the         sire for wealth; greed. In Charles
   soldiers, who had been marching             Dickens’s A Christmas Carol,
   for days.                                   Ebenezer Scrooge is motivated by
at•mos•phere (at´məs fir´) n. the              avarice.
   gaseous envelope of air surround-        back•fire (bak fır´) vi. to have an un-
   ing the earth; the air of a particular      expected and unwelcome result; to
   place. The Environmental                    go awry. The candidate’s strategy
   Protection Agency monitors the              of publicizing his opponent’s
   gases that factories release into the
                                               weaknesses backfired by making
                                               him look mean-spirited.
au•dac•i•ty (o das´ə te n. bold
              ˆ          ¯)
                                            back•track (bak trak´) vi. to return by
   courage; daring. The raid demon-
                                               the same path. To find our way to
   strated the guerrilla leader’s au-
                                               the car, we will have to backtrack.
   dacity and intelligence.
 78      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

baf•fle (baf´əl) vt. to defeat by con-         The Key Club, a benevolent organi-
  fusing; to puzzle or confound. The           zation, planned a food drive for
  instructions for assembling the bi-          the holidays.
  cycle are complex enough to baffle        be•nign (bi nın´) adj. kind; gentle;
  a rocket scientist.                          harmless. It was a relief when the
balm (bäm) n. a substance or method            biopsy showed that the tumor was
  for healing or soothing, especially          benign.
  the mind or temper. I find that           bias (bı´əs) n. a mental leaning or in-
  sunshine is a balm for my depres-            clination; partiality. Before being
  sion.                                        chosen to serve on a jury, people
ba•nal (ba ´nəl) adj. overused; trite;
           ¯                                   are asked to mention any bias that
  commonplace. The Herald critic               might prevent their assessing the
  gave the movie a poor review, pro-           facts objectively.
  nouncing both its plot and its            bin•ocu•lars (bı näk´yə lərz) n. a
  characters banal.                            portable instrument used to view
bar•ri•cade (bar´i ka d´) n. a barrier or
                      ¯                        distant objects, consisting of two
  obstruction. The construction                small telescopes mounted side by
  workers placed barricades of or-             side. Bird-watchers find high-pow-
  ange cones around their work                 ered binoculars a necessity on
  space to divert traffic.                     their field trips.
be•drag•gle (be drag´əl) adj. wet,
                 ¯                          bi•og•ra•pher (bı äg´rə fər) n. a writer
  limp, and dirty, as by dragging              of someone’s life story. A good biog-
  through mire. After the storm, the           rapher carefully researches and in-
  cat’s bedraggled coat made her look          terprets facts about a subject’s life.
  even more pathetic than before.           bi•ol•ogy (bı äl´ə je n. the science
                                                          ¯        ¯)
be•fud•dle (be fud´l) vt. to confuse. I
               ¯                               that deals with the study of living
  was befuddled until the end of the           organisms; it includes botany, zool-
  movie, when all the loose ends               ogy, and microbiology. Mia is
  were finally explained.                      studying biology in preparation
be•lat•ed (be la t´id) adj. late or too
              ¯ ¯                              for her career as a zookeeper.
  late; tardy. Susan never manages to       bi•week•ly (bı we ¯) adj., adv. once
                                                            ¯ ¯k´le
  send out cards on time, but she              every two weeks. Our school news-
  feels that belated birthday greet-           paper is so popular that it now
  ings are better than none.                   comes out biweekly rather than
bel•lig•er•ent (bə lij´ər ənt) adj.            monthly.
  showing a readiness to fight or           blem•ish (blem´ish) n. a mark that
  quarrel. The hockey coach believed           mars the appearance, such as a
  his team’s overall belligerent be-           stain, spot, scar. Just when I
  havior caused frequent fights with           wanted to look my best, a blemish
  opposing players.                            appeared on my chin.
be•muse (be myooz´) vt. to bewilder.
             ¯                              block•ade (blä ka    ¯d´) n. a strategic
  The cabinet’s assembly instruc-              barrier. The army set up the barri-
  tions were so bemusing that I                cade to keep the enemy away from
  finally had to ask someone for help.         the troops.
be•nevo•lent (bə nev´ə lənt) adj.           blue•print (bloo print´) n. a photo-
  doing or inclined to do good; kind.          graphic reproduction in blue and
                                              The Ultimate Word List             79

   white, used for architectural or en-        pressed by the candor with which
   gineering plans; a detailed plan of         the celebrity spoke about intimate
   action. The team of architects pre-         details of her personal life.
   sented the city council with a           can•tan•ker•ous (kan ta ´kər əs) adj.
   model and blueprint for the new             bad-tempered; quarrelsome.
   arts center.                                Children can become cantankerous
bol•ster (bo ¯l´stər) n. a long, narrow        when they are tired or hungry.
   cushion or pillow. People with back      ca•pa•cious (kə pa´shəs) adj. able to
   pain are often advised to sleep             contain or hold much; roomy; spa-
   with a bolster under their knees.           cious. Sam’s knapsack is capa-
boom•er•ang (boom´ər a ´) n. a flat,           cious enough to hold his basketball
   curved stick that when thrown re-           as well as his laptop computer.
   turns to a point near the thrower. In    ca•pri•cious (kə prish´əs) adj. tending
   Australia, Aborigines use the               to change abruptly and without ap-
   boomerang for sport and hunting.            parent reason. It’s difficult to de-
brag•gart (brag´ərt) n. an offensively         pend on someone who is as capri-
   boastful person. The student’s ef-          cious as Jane.
   forts to impress his new friends         car•bu•ret•or (kär´bə ra t´ər) n. a de-
   soon brought him a reputation as            vice in which air is mixed with gaso-
   a braggart.                                 line spray to make an explosive
brit•tle (brit´l) adj. easily broken. The      mixture in an internal-combustion
   archaeologist cautioned her assis-          engine. If the carburetor is not ad-
   tants that the ancient fabric was           justed properly, your car will get
   brittle and must be handled care-           many fewer miles per gallon of
   fully.                                      gasoline.
ca•jole (kə jol´) vt. to coax using flat-
               ¯                            care•taker (ker´ta k´ər) n. a person
   tery and insincere talk. I am often         hired to take care of something,
   able to cajole some people into giv-        such as a house for an absent
   ing me help by telling them how             owner. A caretaker looks after my
   much I admire them.                         grandparents’ home in New Jersey
cam•ou•flage (kam´ə fläzh´) n. a dis-          while they are away in Florida for
   guise that uses patterns merging            the winter.
   with the background, used espe-          cen•so•ri•ous (sen so ¯ əs) adj. in-
   cially for troops and military              clined to find fault; harshly critical.
   items to conceal them from the              I went to the movie despite the
   enemy. The colors of army camou-            censorious reviews it got from
   flage vary depending on location.           some critics.
cam•paign (kam pa n´) n. a series of
                      ¯                     cen•sure (sen´shər) vt. to express
   organized, planned actions for a            strong disapproval of. The judge
   particular purpose, such as electing        censured the attorney for using
   a candidate. The mayor visited              obscene language in the court-
   schools, hospitals, and homeless            room.
   shelters as part of her campaign to      cer•e•mo•ni•al (ser´ə mo´ne əl) adj.
                                                                        ¯ ¯
   get votes.                                  of, for, or consisting of ceremony,
can•dor (kan´dər) n. the quality of            or ritual; formal. The queen’s role
   being frank and open. We were im-           in the country’s government is cer-
 80      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

   emonial, while it is the prime               his explanations because of his
   minister who governs.                        highly technical vocabulary.
cer•ti•fy (surt´ə f ¯´) vt. to declare
                     ı                       clem•en•cy (klem´ən se) n. leniency or
   something true, accurate, or certain         mercy, as toward an offender or
   in a formal statement, often in writ-        enemy. The governor granted
   ing. Some automobile dealers are             clemency to the death-row pris-
   willing to certify that their used           oner, changing his sentence to life
   cars are in good condition.                  imprisonment.
chaos (ka´äs´) n. extreme confusion
           ¯                                 co•ag•u•late (ko ag´yoo la t´) vt. to
                                                                ¯          ¯
   or disorder. Last week’s earthquake          cause (a liquid) to become a soft,
   was so devastating that our city is          semisolid mass. A bacterium added
   still in a state of chaos.                   to milk causes it to coagulate and
chronic (krän´ik) adj. persisting or re-        turn into yogurt.
   curring over a long time. Dad went        co•a•lesce (ko les´) vi. to unite or
   to the doctor again because of his           merge into a single body, group, or
   chronic cough, which seems to be             mass. When the Revolutionary War
   getting worse.                               began, men from various colonies
cir•cui•tous (sər kyoo´ət əs) adj.              coalesced and formed an effective
   roundabout; indirect; devious. We            army.
   found our way to the party by a           co•gent (ko  ¯´jənt) adj. to the point,
   circuitous route because of the              such as during an argument; com-
   traffic jam on the highway.                  pelling; convincing. Can you give
cir•cu•la•tion (sur´kyoo la´shən) n.
                              ¯                 me three cogent reasons why I
   free movement from place to place,           should vote for your candidate?
   as of air in ventilating. Tall book-      co•he•sive (ko he s´iv) adj. sticking to-
                                                             ¯ ¯
   cases in the conference room inter-          gether. The twins’ relationship
   fere with the circulation of cool            seems more cohesive than the bond
   air.                                         between ordinary brothers and sis-
civ•ics (siv´iks) n. the branch of politi-      ters.
   cal science that deals with the du-       col•lab•o•rate (kə lab´ə rat´) vi. to
   ties and rights of citizenship.              work together, especially in some
   Courses in civics prepare high               literary, artistic, or scientific under-
   school students to vote responsibly.         taking. When group work is re-
clamor (klam´ər) n. a loud outcry; up-          quired, individuals must collabo-
   roar. When the band finally came             rate to get the job done.
   onstage, the audience responded           col•o•nize (käl´ə nız´) vt. to found or
   with an ear-piercing clamor.                 establish a colony or colonies in. In
clan•des•tine (klan des´tin) adj. kept          the 1600s, the goal of the early set-
   secret or hidden, especially for             tlers was to colonize the New World.
   some illicit purpose. The spy used a      com•mis•sion (kə mish´ən) n. a fee or
   code to record details of his clan-          a percentage of the proceeds paid
   destine meetings.                            to someone, such as a salesperson,
clari•fy (klar´ə f ¯´) vt. to make or be-
                   ı                            either in addition to or instead of
   come easier to understand. The sci-          wages or salary. The commission
   entist was often asked to clarify            the saleswoman receives for each
                                            The Ultimate Word List           81

  pair of shoes she sells makes her       con•done (kən do n´) vt. to forgive,
  eager to clinch a sale.                   pardon, or overlook (an offense). If
com•pas•sion (kəm pash´ən) n. sor-          you witness a bully’s behavior and
  row for the trouble of others,            do nothing about it, then you con-
  accompanied by an urge to help;           done that sort of violence.
  deep sympathy. His compassion led       con•fla•gra•tion (kän´flə gra ´shən) n.
  him to found an organization to           a big, destructive fire. The confla-
  help feed and shelter the homeless.       gration destroyed thousands of
com•pla•cen•cy (kəm pla ´sən se) n.
                          ¯       ¯         forested acres in Glacier National
  quiet satisfaction or contentment;        Park.
  often self-satisfaction or smugness.    con•flu•ence (kän´floo əns) n. a flow-
  Even though the emergency is over,        ing together, especially of two or
  complacency is inappropriate if           more streams. The confluence of
  the police remain on high alert.          the two rivers forms a navigable
com•pli•ance (kəm plı´əns) n. giving
                       ¯                    waterway.
  in to a request, wish, or demand.       con•found (kən fo¯und´) vt. to make
  Inspectors visit restaurants to           (someone) feel confused; to bewil-
  make sure the food-handling               der; to shame. I was confounded by
  processes are in compliance with          the teacher’s accusation that I
  the law.                                  cheated on the test.
com•pre•hen•sive (käm´pre hen´siv)
                             ¯            con•sen•sus (kən sen´səs) n. agree-
  adj. dealing with all or many of the      ment; unanimity. Juries must reach
  relevant details. Some universities       a consensus when deciding their
  require freshmen to write a com-          verdict.
  prehensive essay describing all as-     con•straint (kən strant´) n. confine-
  pects of their lives and goals.           ment or restriction. No matter
con•cede (kən sed´) vt. to admit as
                  ¯                         where she is, Leora voices her
  true or valid; to acknowledge. She        opinion strongly and without con-
  was willing to concede the point          straint.
  when she realized his research          con•strict (kən strikt´) vt. to make
  was stronger than hers.                   smaller or narrower, especially at
con•cise (kən sıs´) adj. brief and to
                ¯                           one place, by binding, squeezing, or
  the point; short and clear. Our re-       shrinking. If you cut your finger
  port must be concise because we           badly, wrap a bandage tightly
  have only ten minutes in which to         around it to constrict the blood
  make our presentation.                    flow.
con•clu•sive (kən kloo´siv) adj. set-     con•tempt (kən tempt´) n. the feeling
  tling a question; final; decisive.        or attitude of one who looks down
  Higher pay was the conclusive fac-        on somebody or something as being
  tor in deciding whether to move to        low, mean, or unworthy. I feel con-
  Georgia or Alabama.                       tempt for people who do not stand
con•cur (kən kur´) vi. to agree (with);     up for their convictions.
  to be in accord. Participants in the    con•vic•tion (kən vik´shən) n. a strong
  contest promised to concur with           belief; certainty. A presidential can-
  the judges’ final decision.               didate must speak with conviction
 82      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

   in order to persuade voters that he       def•er•ence (def´ər əns) n. respect
   or she is the best candidate.               accorded to an older person or a
con•vo•luted (kän´və loot´id) adj. ex-         superior. My dad always showed
   tremely intricate or complicated.           deference to my grandpa’s wishes
   Josephine’s long, convoluted sto-           regarding the family business.
   ries are impossible to follow.            de•flate (de flat´) vt. to collapse by
                                                          ¯ ¯
cor•rob•o•rate (kə räb´ə ra vt. To
                             ¯t´)              letting out air or gas. Gerry drove
   confirm, bolster, or support. The           over a sharp tack which punctured
   defendant had two witnesses who             and deflated her front tire.
   were willing to corroborate his           deg•ra•da•tion (deg´rə da  ¯´shən) n.
   alibi.                                      a lowering in rank, status, or
cre•du•lity (krə doo´lə te n. a tend-
                            ¯)                 condition. The manager felt a sense
   ency to believe too readily, espe-          of degradation when he was de-
   cially with little or no proof. Mary’s      moted to assistant manager.
   credulity makes her an easy target        del•e•te•ri•ous (del´ə tir´e əs) adj.
   for pranks.                                 harmful to health or well-being.
cri•te•ri•on (krı tir´e ən) n. a standard,
                 ¯    ¯                        Secondhand smoke has been
   rule, or test by which something            proven deleterious to nonsmokers.
   can be judged; measure of value.          de•lin•eate (di lin´e a vt. to trace
                                                                 ¯ ¯t´)
   What criterion did the judges use           the outline of; sketch out. Theo has
   for awarding blue ribbons?                  a series of notecards that delineate
cur•few (kur´fyoo´) n. a time set as a         the main points of his speech.
   deadline beyond which inhabitants         de•lu•sion (di loo´zhən) n. a false be-
   of occupied cities in wartime, or           lief or opinion. George seems to op-
   children under a specified age, may         erate under the delusion that he
   not appear on the streets or in pub-        knows everything and is always
   lic places. Our city’s curfew man-          right.
   dates that anyone under eighteen          dem•a•gogue or dem•a•gog (dem´ə
   be off the streets by 9 p.m.                gäg´) n. a person who tries to stir
cy•clone (sı´klo
             ¯ ¯n´) n. a windstorm             up the people by appeals to emo-
   with a violent, whirling movement,          tion or prejudice in order to win
   such as a tornado or hurricane. The         them over quickly and so gain
   cyclone destroyed several houses            power. He is a demagogue who
   and scattered debris for miles.             plays on the public’s fears and
de•ci•pher (de sı´fər) vt. to translate
                ¯ ¯                            insecurities.
   into ordinary, understandable lan-        de•nounce (de no¯uns´) vt. to accuse
   guage; to decode. The baby sitter           publicly or inform against. The edi-
   had to decipher the parents’ scrib-         torial denounced the governor after
   bled notes before she could do what         offering evidence that he was di-
   they had instructed.                        rectly involved in fraudulent activ-
dec•o•rous (dek´ə rəs) adj. character-         ities.
   ized by or showing good behavior          de•plore (de plo vt. to be regretful
                                                           ¯ ˆr´)
   or good taste. We were surprised            or sorry about. I deplore the
   by the three-year-old’s decorous            squalid conditions under which
   behavior during the wedding                 migrant workers live and work.
                                              The Ultimate Word List           83

de•pre•ci•ate (de pre ¯ a vi. to
                    ¯ ¯´she ¯t´)            di•dac•tic (dı dak´tik) adj. morally in-
   fall in value or price. When a car is       structive, or intended to be so.
   in an accident, its value depreci-          Aesop’s fables, such as “The Boy
   ates based on the extent of the             Who Cried Wolf,” are didactic sto-
   damage.                                     ries that can help teach children
de•ride (di rıd´) vt. to laugh at in con-
               ¯                               the difference between right and
   tempt or scorn; to make fun of; to          wrong.
   ridicule. The playground bullies de-     dif•fuse (di fyoos´) adj. spread out or
   rided the new student’s unusual             dispersed; not concentrated. It is
   accent until the teacher stopped            hard to see in a theater that has
   them.                                       diffuse light.
des•pot•ic (des pät´ik) adj. of or like     di•gres•sion (di gresh´ən) n. a wan-
   a tyrant. Some of the more despotic         dering from the main subject in
   Roman emperors ruled with ruth-             talking or writing. The story about
   lessness and cruelty.                       her dog was a digression from her
de•ter•mi•na•tion (de tur´mi na
                       ¯         ¯´shən)       original story about working at
   n. the quality of being resolute;           the animal hospital.
   firmness of purpose. I ran last          dil•i•gence (dil´ə jəns) n. constant,
   week’s race with the determination          careful effort. He deserved to win
   of a champion.                              first place at the science fair since
de•ter•rent (de tur´ənt) n. a thing or
                  ¯                            he worked with such diligence on
   factor that hinders. United Nations         his project.
   peacekeeping forces act as a deter-      dis•as•sem•ble (dis´ə sem´bəl) vt. to
   rent to further aggression.                 take apart. Michael disassembled
det•ri•men•tal (de´trə ment´l) adj.            and rebuilt the engine on his mo-
   harmful. Cigarette smoking has              torcycle.
   been shown to be detrimental to          dis•cern•ing (di zrn´i ) adj. having or
   health.                                     showing good judgment or under-
de•vi•ous (de ¯ əs) adj. not straight-
                ¯´ve                           standing. A discerning reader,
   forward or frank; deceiving. Lara           Tony organized a book group to
   can think of many devious ways to           read and discuss classic science
   get her younger brother to do her           fiction novels.
   chores.                                  dis•cord•ant (dis ko ˆrd´nt) adj. not in
de•vise (di vız´) vt. to work out or
               ¯                               harmony; clashing. The two com-
   create (something) by thinking;             mittees had vastly discordant pro-
   contrive; plan. Our group tried to          posals and were unable to reach an
   devise a workable plan that would           agreement.
   combine all of our ideas.                dis•cre•tion (di skresh´ən) n. the free-
di•a•lect (dı´ə lekt´) n. a form or vari-
             ¯                                 dom or authority to make decisions
   ety of a spoken language, including         and choices; power to judge or act.
   the standard form, peculiar to a re-        My parents left the decorating deci-
   gion, community, or social group.           sions in my room to my discretion.
   The English dialects spoken in           dis•crimi•nat•ing (di skrim´ə na )¯t´i
   parts of the West Indies can be             adj. able to make or see fine dis-
   hard for Americans to understand.           tinctions; discerning. It’s fun to go
 84      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

   to an art museum with Dave be-                deviating; different. The candidates
   cause he’s a discriminating critic            attempted to explain their diver-
   and knows a lot about art.                    gent views on important issues.
dis•dain (dis da  ¯n´) vt. to regard or       di•verse (də vurs´) adj. different;
   treat as unworthy or beneath one’s            composed of dissimilar elements.
   dignity. Mary’s pampered cat dis-             The school has a diverse body of
   dains all brands of dry cat food.             students from many different
dis•in•gen•u•ous (dis´in jen´yoo əs)             backgrounds.
   adj. not straightforward; not candid       doc•trine (däk´trin) n. beliefs taught
   or frank; insincere. She gave a disin-        as the principles or creed, such as
   genuous excuse for not attending              for a religion or political party. In
   her ex-boyfriend’s birthday party.            the 1840s, the doctrine of Manifest
dis•par•age (di spar´ij) vt. to lower in         Destiny was used to justify the ex-
   esteem; discredit. It is bad man-             pansion of the United States.
   ners to disparage the work of one’s        dog•mat•ic (do mat´ik) adj. stating
   classmates.                                   opinion in a positive or arrogant
dis•po•si•tion (dis´pə zish´ən) n. cus-          manner. I try to listen to the opin-
   tomary frame of mind; nature or               ions of others and not be dogmatic
   temperament. Sara has a remark-               no matter how strongly I feel.
   ably cheerful and friendly disposi-        du•bi•ous (doo´be əs) adj. causing
   tion.                                         doubt; ambiguous. The suspect’s ac-
dis•pro•por•tion (dis´prə po    ˆr´shən) n.      count of what he had been doing
   imbalance; lack of symmetry; dis-             on the night of the murder was
   parity. There was a disproportion             highly dubious.
   between the large number of people         du•plic•i•ty (doo plis´ə te n. hypocrit-
   who boarded the bus and the seats             ical cunning or deception; double-
   available.                                    dealing. The duplicity of the
dis•qual•i•fy (dis kwo f ¯´) vt. to
                        ˆl´ə ı                   lawyer’s demand for strict adher-
   make or declare ineligible; take a            ence to the law was revealed when
   right or privilege away for breaking          he was arrested for shoplifting.
   rules. Drug use will disqualify stu-       dy•nam•ic (dı nam´ik) adj. energetic;
   dents from participating in any               vigorous; forceful. The dancers’
   team sport.                                   performance was so dynamic that
dis•sent (di sent´) vi. to differ in be-         the audience felt exhilarated.
   lief or opinion; disagree (often,          eaves•drop (e   ¯vz´dräp´) vi. to listen se-
   with, from). Two Supreme Court                cretly to the private conversation of
   judges dissented from the majority            others. I never meant to eavesdrop,
   opinion.                                      but I couldn’t help overhearing
dis•suade (di swa   ¯d´) vt. to turn (a          what they were saying.
   person) aside by persuasion or ad-         e•bul•lient (i bool´yənt) adj. over-
   vice. I tried to dissuade my friend           flowing with enthusiasm and high
   from cheating, but he did it any-             spirits; exuberant. When Kathy is
   way and got caught by our teacher.            in a good mood, she is so ebullient
di•ver•gent (dı vur´jənt) adj. varying
                ¯                                that everyone around her feels
   from one another or from a norm;              happy.
                                                 The Ultimate Word List           85

ec•cen•tric (ək sen´trik) adj. out of          em•u•late (em´yoo la vt. to imitate
   the ordinary; unconventional. Her              an admired person or thing. I try to
   eccentric style of dress includes              emulate my older brother Larry,
   feather boas worn with sneakers.               who is honest, reliable, and hard-
e•c•lec•tic (ek lek´tik) adj. composed            working.
   of material gathered from various           en•dorse (en do   ˆrs´) vt. to give ap-
   sources or systems. I have an eclec-           proval to; support; sanction; to sign
   tic collection of rocks that come              as payee on the back of a check or
   from all over the world.                       money order. Each of the candi-
e•clipse (i klips´) n. the partial or total       dates at the convention is trying to
   obscuring of one celestial body by             get the trade union to endorse him.
   another, especially of the sun when         en•er•vate (en´ər va vt. to deprive
   the moon comes between it and the              of strength, force, vigor; weaken
   earth. We were warned not to look              physically, mentally, or morally.
   at the sun during the eclipse.                 John’s cold enervated him so much
e•go•tism (e ¯ tiz´əm) n. constant,
              ¯´go                                that he stayed in bed for two days.
   excessive reference to oneself in           e•nig•ma (i nig´mə) n. a perplexing,
   speaking or writing; self-conceit.             usually ambiguous, statement; rid-
   Jeffrey’s egotism is so extreme that           dle. Archaeologists have long pon-
   he believes everything we do is re-            dered the enigma of how ancient
   lated to him.                                  Egyptians constructed the pyra-
e•gre•gious (e gre
                 ¯ ¯´jəs) adj. remark-            mids without modern tools.
   ably bad. Being an hour late for an         e•phem•er•al (e fem´ər əl) adj. lasting
   interview is an egregious error                only one day; short-lived. Biology
   that may cost you the job.                     students use fruit flies, which have
e•late (e lat´) vt. to raise the spirits of;
         ¯ ¯                                      ephemeral life cycles, to study ge-
   make very proud, happy, or joyful.             netics.
   Ross’s parents were elated by his           e•piph•a•ny (e pif´ə ne) n. a moment
                                                              ¯          ¯
   much-improved report card.                     of sudden intuitive understanding
el•o•quence (el´ə kwəns) n. speech or             or a flash of insight. Watching the
   writing that is vivid, forceful, fluent,       sunset, I had an epiphany about
   graceful, and persuasive. Because              our humble place in the universe.
   she spoke with such eloquence,              e•qua•nim•i•ty (ek´wə nim´ə te) n. the
   everyone stayed to listen despite              quality of remaining calm and
   the late hour.                                 undisturbed; evenness of mind or
em•bel•lish (em bel´ish) vt. to deco-             temper. She was able to receive the
   rate or improve by adding detail; or-          news with equanimity because she
   nament; adorn. My little brother               had prepared herself for the worst.
   embellishes the truth by exaggerat-         e•quiv•o•cal (e kwiv´ə kəl) adj. uncer-
   ing every detail.                              tain; undecided; doubtful. The wit-
em•i•grate (em´i gra vi. to leave
                       ¯t´)                       ness’s testimony was so full of con-
   one country or region to settle in             tradictions that the defendant’s
   another. Kathleen’s grandparents               fate remained as equivocal as ever.
   emigrated from Ireland to the               er•u•dite (er´yoo dıt´) adj. having or
   United States during the 1920s.                showing a wide knowledge gained
 86       How to Build a Super Vocabulary

   from reading; learned; scholarly.                occasion; advantageous; conve-
   Her erudite account of Roman his-                nient. For Nestor, buying a choco-
   tory testifies to her years of study.            late birthday cake is more expedi-
es•o•teric (es´ə ter´ik) adj. beyond the            ent than baking one from scratch.
   understanding or knowledge of                 ex•pe•dite (eks´pə dıt´) vt. to speed
   most people; abstruse.                           up or make easy; hasten; facilitate.
   Hieroglyphics, the esoteric writing              The best way to expedite the deliv-
   system of ancient Egypt, uses pic-               ery of your package is to use
   tures and symbols to represent                   overnight mail.
   words, syllables, and sounds.                 ex•plic•it (eks plis´it) adj. clearly
eu•phe•mism (yoo´fə miz´əm) n. a                    stated and leaving nothing implied.
   word or phrase that is less expres-              A person’s will should include ex-
   sive or direct but considered less               plicit instructions for the distribu-
   distasteful or less offensive than an-           tion of assets to prevent disputes
   other. Aunt Sadie likes to call a                among surviving family members.
   spade a spade and despises the use            ex•punge (ek spunj´) vt. to erase or
   of euphemisms.                                   remove completely; blot out or
ex•alt (eg zo ˆlt´) vt. to raise on high; ele-      strike out; delete; cancel. Juvenile
   vate; lift up. The stories of the hero’s         police records are often expunged
   great feats exalted his reputation.              when an individual turns eighteen.
ex•e•cute (ek´si kyoot´) vt. to follow           ex•tol or ex•toll (eks to vt. to praise
   out or carry out; perform; fulfill.              highly. He extolled the pleasures of
   When the president of the United                 skiing so much that I am thinking
   States gives an order, he expects                of taking lessons.
   his wishes to be executed.                    ex•tra•dite (eks´trə dıt´) vt. to turn
ex•er•tion (eg zur´shən) n. active use              over (a person accused or con-
   of strength or power. Anyone un-                 victed of a crime) to the jurisdiction
   used to intense physical exertion                of another place where the crime
   should consult a physician before                was allegedly committed. The sus-
   beginning an exercise regimen.                   pect was arrested in Texas and
ex•haus•tive (eg zo    ˆs´tiv) adj. leaving         will be extradited to New York,
   nothing out; covering every possi-               where the crime occurred.
   ble detail; thorough. Her exhaus-             ex•u•ber•ance (eg zoo´bər əns) n.
   tive instructions for reaching the               high spirits; joyous enthusiasm. He
   picnic site were clear but gave al-              talked about his trip to Africa with
   most too much detail.                            such exuberance that it made me
ex•hil•a•rate (eg zil´ə ra vt. to make
                             ¯t´)                   eager to travel there.
   cheerful, merry, or lively; to refresh.       fac•ile (fas´il) adj. not hard to do or
   The three things that most exhila-               achieve; easy. We were not satisfied
   rate me are being with friends,                  with last week’s facile win; we are
   dancing, and watching football                   looking forward to a more chal-
   games.                                           lenging game this weekend.
ex•pe•di•ent (ek spe ¯ ənt) adj. use-
                         ¯´de                    fal•li•ble (fal´ə bəl) adj. capable of
   ful for effecting a desired result;              making a mistake or being deceived
   suited to the circumstances or the               “We’re all fallible,” said Mr.
                                             The Ultimate Word List               87

   Sharaka when a student pointed          fore•sight (fo ¯t´) n. thoughtful
   out his spelling mistake.                  preparation for the future.
fa•nat•i•cism (fə nat´ə siz´əm) n. ex-        Experienced campers have the
   cessive and unreasonable zeal. It’s        foresight to plan for unexpected
   possible to exercise with such fa-         weather and other problems.
   naticism that you actually injure       for•feit (foˆr´fit) vt. to lose, give up, or
   yourself.                                  be deprived of, specifically for
fas•tid•i•ous (fa stid´e əs) adj. not
                        ¯                     some fault or crime. The visiting
   easy to please; very critical or dis-      team had to forfeit the game when
   criminating. My boss is so fastidi-        their bus had two flat tires.
   ous that I sometimes have to redo       fos•ter (fös´tər) vt. to help to grow or
   my projects many times.                    develop; stimulate. Charlie credits
fa•vor•it•ism (f a´vər ə tiz´əm) n. the
                  ¯                           his uncle as the person who fos-
   showing of more kindness and in-           tered his early interest in science.
   dulgence to some person or per-         fre•net•ic (frə net´ik) adj. frantic;
   sons than to others; the act of being      frenzied. It’s exhausting to travel
   unfairly partial. One of the players       with Robin, who does her sightsee-
   accused the coach of favoritism for        ing at a frenetic pace.
   always letting Riley play first.        friv•o•lous (friv´ə ləs) adj. of little
fea•si•ble (fe´zə bəl) adj. capable of
              ¯                               value or importance; trifling; trivial.
   being done or carried out; practica-       I try not to worry about frivolous,
   ble; possible. The project is feasi-       insignificant things.
   ble, but will require a lot of hard     fru•gal (froo´gəl) adj. not wasteful;
   work and planning.                         thrifty; economical. My dad is fru-
fe•cund (fe´kənd) adj. fruitful or fer-
            ¯                                 gal and never spends his money
   tile; productive. Many fruits and          frivolously.
   vegetables come from California’s       fur•tive (fur´tiv) adj. acting in a
   fecund Sacramento Valley.                  stealthy manner, as if to avoid being
fel•low•ship (fel´o ship´) n. compan-
                    ¯                         seen; sneaky. The jewelry store’s se-
   ionship; friendly association. My          curity cameras recorded the bur-
   church group provides the fellow-          glar’s furtive movements.
   ship I need.                            fu•tile (fyootl) adj. useless; ineffec-
fe•ral (fir´əl) adj. untamed; wild.           tive. All efforts to keep the orches-
   Residents of the neighborhood have         tra from bankruptcy proved futile.
   been frightened by a pack of feral      gal•lant (gə lant´) adj. spirited and
   dogs.                                      brave; courteous and attentive, es-
fer•vor (fur´vər) n. great warmth of          pecially to ladies. The knight’s gal-
   emotion; ardor or zeal. After every        lant rescue of the princess from the
   hit, walk, or run, the stadium             dragon won him a place in legend.
   seemed to explode with the fervor       gar•ru•lous (gar´ə ləs) adj. talking too
   of the fans.                               much, especially about unimportant
flam•ma•ble (flam´ə bəl) adj. easily          things. Aunt Ida is so garrulous
   set on fire. During a dry season or        that no one else can get in a word.
   drought, forests are highly flam-       gauge (ga vt. to measure the size,
   mable.                                     amount, extent, or capacity of.
 88      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

  Weather researchers actually fly         gul•li•ble (gul´ə bəl) adj. easily
  into a hurricane to gauge the force        cheated or tricked. I have a friend
  of its winds.                              who is so gullible that he believes
gen•er•ate (jen´ər a vt. to bring into
                     ¯t´)                    everything anyone tells him.
  being; cause to be. The windmill         hack•neyed (hak´ne    ¯d´) adj. made
  generates electricity for the              trite by overuse. Good writers
  farmer’s house.                            avoid hackneyed phrases and look
goad (go vt. to prod into action;
          ¯d)                                for fresh ways of expressing their
  urge on. The mule had to be goaded         insights.
  into action.                             ham•per (ham´pər) vt. to keep from
gouge (gouj) vt. to scoop out; dig or        moving or acting freely. Alejandro
  force out. When it struck the earth,       insists that having a pet will ham-
  the asteroid gouged a huge crater          per his ability to travel.
  in the desert.                           hap•haz•ard (hap´haz´ərd) adj. not
gran•di•ose (gran´de o adj. seem-
                       ¯ ¯s´)                planned; random. Her apartment is
  ing or trying to seem very impor-          furnished with a haphazard collec-
  tant; pompous and showy. Harriet           tion of furniture bought from
  has grandiose ideas about becom-           thrift shops.
  ing a writer, but she never sends        har•bin•ger (här´bin jər) n. a person
  her manuscripts to publishers.             or thing that comes before to an-
grati•fy•ing (grat´i f ¯´iŋ) adj. giving
                       ı                     nounce or give an indication of
  pleasure or satisfaction.                  what follows. Robins are the har-
  Volunteering at the animal shelter         bingers of spring.
  has been hard but gratifying work.       har•mo•ni•ous (här mo ¯ əs) adj.
gra•tu•i•tous (grə too´i təs) adj. with-     having parts combined in a propor-
  out cause or justification; uncalled-      tionate, orderly, or pleasing
  for. Phyllis’s gratuitous advice an-       arrangement. A choir is considered
  noyed Lynn, who had already                harmonious when each section can
  made her decision.                         be heard clearly and in tune.
gre•gar•i•ous (grə ger´e əs) adj. fond
                           ¯               haughty (ho ¯ ) n. having or showing
  of the company of others; sociable.        great pride in oneself and disdain,
  I would have a hard time working           contempt, or scorn for others. The
  alone because I am a gregarious            chef was talented, but his haughty
  person.                                    manner alienated many customers.
grov•el (gruv´əl) vi. to behave humbly     haz•ard•ous (haz´ər dəs) adj. risky;
  or abjectly, especially before an au-      dangerous; perilous. Smoking is
  thority. I would rather work for less      hazardous to your health; it can
  money than have to grovel before a         cause heart and lung failure or
  boss who humiliates workers.               cancer.
guile (gıl) n. slyness and cunning in
         ¯                                 heed (hed) vt. to pay close attention
  dealing with others; craftiness.           to; take careful notice of. It is im-
  Some people try to achieve their           portant to heed traffic warnings
  objectives through guile, but open-        when crossing a busy intersection.
  ness and honesty are often more          hei•nous (ha  ¯´nəs) adj. outrageously
  successful.                                evil or wicked; abominable. The
                                             The Ultimate Word List              89

   tyrant’s heinous acts of cruelty fi-        held as a hostage until the general
   nally provoked a revolt among the           agreed to release three enemy sol-
   people.                                     diers.
her•e•sy (her´i se) n. any opinion (in
                  ¯                        hu•mil•i•ty (hyoo mil´ə te) n. the state
   philosophy, politics) opposed to of-        or quality of being humble; absence
   ficial or established views or doc-         of pride. A sense of humility helps
   trines In the days of. Copernicus,          us see our own limitations.
   it was heresy to say that the earth     hy•per•bole (hı pur´bə le) n. exagger-
                                                             ¯           ¯
   moved around the sun.                       ation for effect. Saying that some-
hi•a•tus (hı at´əs) n. any gap or inter-
             ¯¯                                one is “as tough as nails” is a hy-
   ruption, as in continuity or time.          perbole.
   After the hiatus of a two-week va-      hyp•not•ic (hip nät´ik) adj. trancelike.
   cation, the overworked scientist re-        The rhythmic movement of the
   turned to her research with re-             pendulum had begun to put her
   newed enthusiasm.                           into a hypnotic state.
hi•ber•nate (hı´bər na vi. to spend
                ¯       ¯t´)               hypo•crite (hip´ə krit´) n. a person
   the winter in a dormant state. Bears        who pretends to be what he or she
   hibernate through the cold winter           is not. Elena’s father is a real hyp-
   months.                                     ocrite-- he spends hours discussing
hin•der (hin´dər) vt. to keep back or          politics but never votes.
   get in the way of. His lack of a dri-   hy•po•thet•i•cal (hı ´po thet´i kəl) adj.
                                                                 ¯ ¯
   ver’s license will hinder his search        assumed; supposed. Imagine a hy-
   for a summer job.                           pothetical situation in which you
hin•drance (hin´drəns) n. any person           win a million dollars—what would
   or thing that holds back; obstacle;         you do with it?
   obstruction. Danny refuses to ac-       hys•ter•i•cal (hi ster´i kəl) adj. uncon-
   knowledge that his bossiness is a           trollably wild and emotional; pos-
   hindrance to making and keeping             sessed by either laughter or fear. The
   friends.                                    comedian was so funny that we be-
ho•mo•ge•ne•ous (ho ¯ je ¯ əs)
                       ¯´mo ¯´ne               came hysterical with laughter.
   adj. composed of similar or identi-     il•lu•so•ry (i loo´sə re) adj. unreal; pro-
   cal elements or parts; uniform.             ducing, based on, or having the na-
   Some people choose to live in a ho-         ture of a false perception. She was
   mogeneous community, but I                  searching for an illusory Prince
   much prefer a neighborhood where            Charming like the ones in the fairy
   different types of people live.             tales she had read as a child.
hos•pi•ta•ble (häs´pit ə bəl) adj. the     im•ma•ture (im´ə toor´) adj. lacking
   act, practice, or quality of welcom-        the emotional maturity and sense of
   ing guests. When I visited my               responsibility characteristic of an
   friend, her parents were so hos-            adult. Carla’s boss told her that she
   pitable that I felt completely com-         was too immature to be promoted.
   fortable.                               im•mi•grate (im´ə gra vi. to come
hos•tage (häs´tij) n. a person taken           to a new country, region, or envi-
   prisoner by an enemy until certain          ronment, especially in order to set-
   conditions are met. The soldier was         tle there. My great-grandparents
 90     How to Build a Super Vocabulary

  immigrated to New York from                who want the customer’s credit
  Italy in 1928.                             card number for their own use.
im•mu•ta•ble (i myoot´ə bəl) adj.         in•ad•vert•ent (in´ad vurt´nt) adv. un-
  never changing or varying; un-             intentional. When I was ready to
  changeable. That night follows day         pay for dinner and leave the
  is an immutable law of nature.             restaurant, I realized I had inad-
im•pair (im per´) vt. to make worse          vertently left my wallet in my car.
  or weaker; damage. Drinking and         in•ane (in a¯n´) adj. lacking sense or
  driving is illegal because alcohol         meaning; foolish; silly. The joke’s
  impairs an individual’s percep-            punch line was so inane that no
  tion and judgment.                         one laughed.
im•pede (im ped´) vt. to bar or hinder
                ¯                         in•au•di•ble (in o ˆd´ə bəl) adj. unable
  the progress of; obstruct or delay.        to be heard. After the microphone
  The traffic accident impeded his           quit working, the speaker was in-
  efforts to get to the meeting early.       audible to those in the back of the
im•peri•ous (im pir´e əs) adj. over-
                       ¯                     auditorium.
  bearing, arrogant, or domineering.      in•aus•pi•cious (in´o spish´əs) adj. un-
  The woman’s imperious manner               favorable; unlucky. Losing my wal-
  angered the others at the meeting.         let was an inauspicious beginning
im•pinge (im pinj´) vi. to make in-          to my vacation.
  roads or encroach upon the prop-        in•ci•den•tal (in´sə dent´l) adj. hap-
  erty or rights of another. He im-          pening as a result of or in connec-
  pinged upon my work space by               tion with something more impor-
  taking over my desk and answer-            tant. Encounters with celebrities
  ing my phone.                              are incidental to my job as a vet-
im•pla•ca•ble (im pla´kə bəl) adj.
                      ¯                      erinarian.
  unable to be appeased or pacified.      in•ci•sive (in sı´siv) adj. sharp; keen;
  Peace is difficult to achieve be-          penetrating. Good detectives must
  tween nations that have experi-            have incisive minds to help them
  enced decades of implacable hatred.        solve crimes.
im•plau•si•ble (im plo   ˆ´zə bəl) adj.   in•clu•sive (in kloo´siv) adj. taking
  difficult to believe. Her story of         everything into account. As part of
  a talking cat was completely               the hotel’s inclusive room rate, you
  implausible.                               get breakfast and access to the
im•ple•ment (im´plə mənt) vt. to ful-        pool.
  fill; accomplish. The purpose of a      in•com•pa•ra•ble (in käm´pə rə bəl)
  fire drill is to test whether people       adj. beyond comparison; un-
  can implement an emergency plan            equaled. The opera singer had a
  efficiently.                               voice that was incomparable in its
im•pos•tor (im päs´tər) n. a person          range.
  who deceives or cheats others, es-      in•con•gru•ous (in kä ´groo əs) adj.
  pecially by pretending to be some-         unsuitable or inappropriate; incom-
  one or something that he or she is         patible. Her cheerful manner was
  not. Some people who pretend to            incongruous with the gloomy de-
  work in phone sales are impostors          meanor of her mate.
                                              The Ultimate Word List           91

in•con•se•quen•tial (in kän´si kwen´        in•ert (in urt´) adj. without power to
   shəl) adj. unimportant; trivial. My         move, act, or resist; very slow to
   bruised elbow seems inconsequen-            move. The flu left her inert and
   tial compared with my friend’s              miserable.
   broken leg.                              in•fal•li•ble (in fal´ə bəl) adj. never
in•con•tro•vert•i•ble (in´kän´trə vurt´ə       wrong. My dad, who has an infal-
   bəl) adj. not disputable or debat-          lible sense of direction, can find
   able; undeniable. The defendant’s           his way no matter where he is.
   story seemed incontrovertible after      in•fa•mous (in´fə məs) adj. having a
   two witnesses came forward to               very bad reputation. That school is
   back up his claim.                          infamous for its poor discipline
in•cor•ri•gi•ble (in ko jə bəl) adj.
                       ˆr´ə                    and academic performance.
   that cannot be corrected, improved,      in•flam•mable (in flam´ə bəl) adj. eas-
   or reformed, especially because of          ily roused, provoked, or excited;
   previously set bad habits. Despite          easily set on fire. Jordan struggles
   having been caught many times,              to control his inflammable temper.
   Ana still is an incorrigible liar.       in•gen•ious (in jen´yəs) adj. clever,
in•dict (in dıt´) vt. to charge with the
              ¯                                resourceful, original, and inventive.
   commission of a crime. A suspect            His card-shuffling machine was so
   must be indicted before he or she           ingenious that it won first prize
   can be arrested for a crime.                in the competition.
in•dif•fer•ent (in dif´ər ənt) adj. hav-    in•her•ent (in hir´ənt) adj. existing in
   ing or showing no partiality, bias, or      someone or something as a natural
   preference. I am indifferent to             and inseparable quality, characteris-
   what you prepare, as long as you            tic, or right. His inherent interest
   are the one who makes dinner.               in animals made him a good vet-
in•dig•e•nous (in dij´ə nəs) adj. exist-       erinarian.
   ing, growing, or produced naturally      in•nate (in´nat´) adj. existing natu-
   in a region or country. Do you know         rally rather than acquired; that
   which Native American tribes are            seems to have been in one from
   indigenous to your region?                  birth. The fashion designer seemed
in•dis•crim•i•nate (in´di skrim´i nit)         to have an innate sense of color.
   adj. not based on careful selection      in•noc•u•ous (i näk´yoo əs) adj. harm-
   or discerning tastes; confused or           less. I don’t understand why she
   random. When one makes indis-               was upset by such an innocuous
   criminate choices, one can expect           remark.
   disappointing results.                   in•no•va•tion (in´ə va  ¯´shən) n. some-
in•do•lent (in´də lənt) adj. disliking or      thing newly introduced; new
   avoiding work; idle; lazy. The man-         method, custom, or device. The
   ager fired the indolent employee for        new president’s innovations upset
   failing to stock the shelves on time.       some people’s routines but im-
in•duce (in doos´) vt. to bring on;            proved efficiency.
   bring about; cause; effect. No one       in•nu•mer•able (i noo´mer ə bəl) adj.
   has been able to induce Aunt Kate           too numerous to be counted; very
   to share her prize-winning recipe.          many; countless. The pioneers sur-
 92      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

   mounted innumerable difficulties             “That’s just great!” Marc declared
   in order to reach Oregon.                    as the vase shattered, but I knew
in•sip•id (in sip´id) adj. without fla-         he was being ironic.
   vor; tasteless. A variety of spices      ir•res•o•lute (i rez´ə loot´) adj.
   will make the dish less insipid.             wavering in decision, purpose, or
in•sti•gate (in´stə gat´) vt. to urge on,
                       ¯                        opinion; indecisive. Magda is
   spur on, or incite to some action,           always irresolute about spending
   especially to some evil. I was               so much money and waits until
   grounded longer than my brother              the last minute to buy her concert
   because I was the one who insti-             tickets.
   gated the fight between us.              i•tin•er•ant (ı tin´ər ənt) adj. traveling
in•teg•ri•ty (in teg´rə te n. upright-
                            ¯)                  from place to place. Country people
   ness, honesty, and sincerity. A per-         used to buy their few luxuries
   son with integrity never cheats.             from itinerant peddlers.
in•ter•mi•na•ble (in tur´mi nə bəl) adj.    ju•di•cious (joo dish´əs) adj. having,
   endless; seeming to last forever.            applying, or showing sound judg-
   After an interminable wait, I fi-            ment; wise and careful. You will
   nally got my test results.                   have better luck with your college
in•ter•vene (in´tər ve   ¯n´) vi. to come       applications if you are judicious
   between as an influence, in order to         about which colleges to apply to.
   modify, settle, or hinder some ac-       junc•tion (ju k´shən) n. a place or
   tion or argument. When my sister             point of joining or crossing, as of
   and I argue, my mother usually               highways or railroads. You’ll find
   intervenes by giving us chores to            the town library at the junction of
   do in different rooms.                       Main Street and First Avenue.
in•tim•i•date (in tim´ə dat´) vt. to
                              ¯             jus•ti•fi•a•ble (jus´tə f ¯ ´ə bəl) adj. that
   make timid; make afraid. His arro-           can be defended as correct. No one
   gance and bossiness did not in-              thinks that the supervisor’s deci-
   timidate me.                                 sion to fire him is justifiable.
in•trin•sic (in trin´sik) adj. belonging    kin•dle (kin´dəl) vt. to arouse or ex-
   to the real nature of a thing. Food,         cite, such as interest or feelings.
   water, and sleep are intrinsic               Motivational speakers aim to kin-
   human needs.                                 dle listeners’ desires to become
in•vert (in vurt´) vt. to turn upside           more successful and happier.
   down. To serve the angel food cake,      kin•ship (kin´ship´) n. family relation-
   run a knife around the inside edge           ship. Though I don’t know my
   of the cake mold and then invert it          cousins well, I still have a feeling
   onto a serving plate.                        of kinship toward them.
in•vet•er•ate (in vet´ər it) adj. firmly    lab•y•rinth (lab´ə rinth´) n. a structure
   established over a long period; of           containing an intricate network of
   long standing. I dread to think              winding passages that are hard to
   what her lungs look like because             follow without losing one’s way;
   she is an inveterate smoker.                 maze. In the ancient Greek myth,
i•ron•ic (ı rän´ik) adj. meaning the
           ¯                                    the hero found his way out of the
   contrary of what is expressed.               labyrinth with the help of a string
                                               The Ultimate Word List           93

    that guided him through its twist-         explain the lesson even to my little
    ing passages.                              brother.
la•ment (lə ment´) vi. to feel deep          mag•nan•i•mous (mag nan´ə məs)
    sorrow or express it, as by weeping        adj. rising above pettiness or mean-
    or wailing; mourn; grieve. When            ness. It was magnanimous of Toni
    loved ones die, many people prefer         to offer to shake hands with Julio
    to lament with family members              and forget the whole unpleasant
    and friends.                               incident.
lam•poon (lam poon´) n. a piece of           ma•li•cious (mə lish´əs) adj. spiteful;
    satirical writing, usually attacking       intentionally mischievous or harm-
    or ridiculing someone. The novel           ful. Rachel took malicious pleasure
    lampooned the lavish lifestyles of         in watching the prom queen’s fall.
    the very rich.                           mas•sa•cre (mas´ə kər) n. the indis-
lan•guish (la ´-gwish) vi. to lose vigor       criminate, merciless killing of a
    or vitality; fail in health; become        large number of human beings. In
    weak; droop. The plant on her desk         the movie, the shootout involved a
    languished for lack of water and           massacre of innocent people
    finally died.                              caught in the gang’s crossfire.
laud (lo vt. to praise. Critics
          ˆd)                                mav•er•ick (mav´ər ik) n. a person
    lauded the actors for their ener-          who takes an independent stand, as
    getic and sensitive performances.          in politics, from that of a party or
leg•a•cy (leg´ə se n. something
                      ¯)                       group. The newspaper called the
    handed down from the past, as              politician a maverick because he
    from an ancestor. My great-grand-          did not vote along party lines.
    mother’s pearl necklace is a legacy      mea•ger (me  ¯´gər) adj. of poor quality
    I treasure.                                or small amount. My sandwich
le•thar•gic (li thär´jik) adj. abnormally      looks meager compared with my
    drowsy, dull, or sluggish. Taking          friend’s lunch of lasagna, salad,
    nighttime cold medication can make         vegetables, and dessert.
    you feel lethargic the next day.         me•an•der (me an´dər) vi. to wander
lev•i•ty (lev´i te n. lightness or gaiety
                   ¯)                          aimlessly; to follow a winding path.
    of disposition, conduct, or speech;        The tourist meandered through the
    lack of seriousness. He spoke of the       Old City, stopping to look in every
    accident with levity, not seeming          shop window.
    to care about the car that he hit.       med•dle•some (med´l səm) adj. in-
list•less (list´lis) adj. having no inter-     clined to interfere in the affairs of
    est in what is going on about one,         others. You may think I’m meddle-
    as a result of illness, weariness, or      some for bringing up your prob-
    dejection. Diana was so exhausted          lem, but I genuinely want to help.
    by her surgery that she remained         med•i•ta•tion (med´ə ta  ¯´shən) n.
    listless even when her friends             deep, continued thought. I need a
    came to visit.                             period of meditation to sort out
lu•cid (loo´sid) adj. clear to the mind;       my ideas and feelings.
    readily understood. Mr. Lopez’s ex-      mer•cu•rial (mər kyoor´e əl) adj.
    planation was so lucid that I could        quick, quick-witted, volatile,
 94     How to Build a Super Vocabulary

  changeable, and fickle. My team-        na•dir (na ¯´dər) n. the lowest point.
  mate has a mercurial disposition;         The play’s bad press represented
  he is quick-tempered on the field         the nadir of the author’s career.
  but mellow afterward.                   neb•u•lous (neb´yə ləs) adj. unclear;
me•thod•i•cal (mə thäd´i kəl) adj.          vague; indefinite. Jason has no
  orderly; systematic. Every night I        plans—not even nebulous ones—
  follow a methodical routine for           for what he’ll do after graduation.
  getting ready for bed.                  nem•e•sis (nem´ə sis) n. anyone or
me•tic•u•lous (mə tik´yoo ləs) adj. ex-     anything that seems to be the in-
  tremely or excessively careful            evitable cause of someone’s down-
  about details. This essay needs to        fall. The athlete’s nemesis is the
  be perfect, since my teacher is           third hurdle; she easily clears the
  meticulous about spelling, punctu-        first two, but trips on the third in
  ation, and usage.                         every race.
mi•crobe (mı´kro
             ¯ ¯b´) n. a microscopic      noc•tur•nal (näk tur´nəl) adj. func-
  organism, especially any of the bac-      tioning or active during the night.
  teria that cause disease; germ. In        Most bats are nocturnal and use
  my lab notebook, I have several           their hearing more than their vi-
  drawings of different microbes            sion to find their way in the dark.
  found in a drop of pond water.          no•mad (no   ¯´mad´) n. a wanderer who
mit•i•gate (mit´ə ga vt. to make or
                     ¯t´)                   has no fixed home; a member of a
  become milder, less severe, less rig-     people who move seasonally. Some
  orous, or less painful; moderate.         early Native Americans were no-
  Jenna doesn’t feel any better when        mads who had to follow their food
  people tell her that time will miti-      source—the buffalo—as it mi-
  gate her grief.                           grated across the land.
mon•arch (män´ərk´) n. the single         non•cha•lant (nän´shə länt´) adj. show-
  ruler of a state. How many coun-          ing cool lack of concern; casually in-
  tries can you name that still have        different. Her nonchalant way of
  a monarch rather than another             tossing the money down showed
  type of leader?                           that she was used to wealth.
mon•o•tone (män´ə to n. a succes-
                        ¯n´)              nos•tal•gi•a (nä stal´jə) n. a longing
  sion of syllables of the same pitch.      for something far away or long ago
  My English teacher speaks in a mo-        or for former happy circumstances.
  notone that almost puts me to sleep.      I still feel nostalgia when I think
mo•rose (mə ro adj. characterized
                ¯s´)                        about my relatives and family
  by gloom. After his puppy ran             home in Georgia.
  away, the little boy became morose      no•to•ri•ous (no to ¯ əs) adj. widely but
                                                          ¯ ˆr´e
  and refused to play with other            unfavorably known or talked about.
  children.                                 The deserted neighborhood was no-
mun•dane (mun´da     ¯n´) adj. common-      torious for its criminal activity.
  place, everyday, ordinary. The artist   nox•ious (näk´shəs) adj. harmful to
  felt he needed a vacation from his        the health. The school building was
  mundane routine to renew his cre-         evacuated when several students
  ativity.                                  became sick from noxious fumes.
                                               The Ultimate Word List            95

nur•ture (nur´chər) vt. the act or              ing; offensive. I thought her behav-
   process of raising or promoting the          ior last night was odious, and it
   development of; training, educating,         will take me awhile to forgive her.
   or fostering. The child’s natural         of•fi•cious (ə fish´əs) adj. offering un-
   musical talent was nurtured by               necessary and unwanted advice or
   her piano teacher.                           services. The waiter’s officious at-
ob•du•rate (äb´door it) adj. not easily         tentions gave us no opportunity
   moved to pity or sympathy; hard-             for a private conversation.
   hearted. Cinderella’s stepmother          om•i•nous (äm´ə nəs) adj. of or serv-
   was obdurate in refusing to let              ing as an omen; especially an evil
   Cinderella go to the ball.                   omen; threatening; sinister. The sky
ob•jec•tion•a•ble (əb jek´shənə bəl)            turned yellow green, and we could
   adj. disagreeable; offensive. I find         see ominous black clouds speeding
   it objectionable when people smoke           toward us.
   indoors.                                  o•paque (o pak´) adj. not letting light
                                                         ¯ ¯
ob•jec•tive (əb jek´tiv) n. something           pass through. I could not see
   aimed or striven for. The group’s            through the opaque window in
   main objective is to complete their          the door to find out who was
   assignment on time.                          knocking.
ob•lit•er•ate (ə blit´ər a t´) vt. to blot
                          ¯                  op•er•a•tive (äp´ər ə tiv´) adj. of pri-
   out or wear away, leaving no traces;         mary importance; key; essential. In
   erase. The rainstorm obliterated             any group project, the operative
   the chalk drawing we made on the             word that guarantees success is
   sidewalk.                                    respect.
ob•scure (əb skyoor´) adj. dark; not         op•ti•mism (äp´tə miz´əm) n. the
   clear or distinct; faint or undefined.       tendency to take the most hopeful
   In the fog, the figures were too             or cheerful view of matters or to
   obscure for me to see who they               expect the best outcome. Despite
   were.                                        all the troubles she has faced, Mary
ob•se•qui•ous (əb se   ¯´kwe əs) adj.
                             ¯                  Jane’s optimism keeps her going.
   showing too great a willingness to        op•u•lent (äp´yoo lənt) adj. showing
   serve or obey; fawning. She found            great wealth. Although James lives
   his obsequious behavior flattering,          in an opulent home, he prefers to
   yet annoying.                                spend time in his friend’s small
ob•so•lete (äb´sə le adj. no longer
                     ¯t´)                       apartment.
   in use or practice. Compact disk          os•ten•ta•tion (äs´tən ta¯´shən) n.
   players have made audiocassette              showy display, as of wealth or
   players practically obsolete.                knowledge. The ostentation of the
ob•sti•nate (äb´stə nət) adj. stubborn;         other woman’s appearance made
   unreasonably determined to have              me feel underdressed.
   one’s own way. The obstinate little       os•tra•cism (äs´trə siz´əm) n. a rejec-
   boy refused to leave the store until         tion or exclusion by general con-
   he got what he wanted.                       sent, as from a group or from ac-
o•di•ous (o ¯ əs) adj. arousing or de-
            ¯´de                                ceptance by society. Ostracism by
   serving hatred or loathing; disgust-         the student council was John’s
 96      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

  punishment for failing to attend            prescribed temperature for a speci-
  monthly meetings.                           fied period of time. Pasteurization
pac•i•fism (pas´ə fiz´əm) n. opposition       destroys bacteria in milk, but
  to the use of force under any cir-          some people say the heat destroys
  cumstances. Some people believe             the taste as well.
  that pacifism is a better way to          pa•tron•ize (pa´trən ¯z´) vt. to provide
                                                           ¯      ı
  bring about a change than violence          help and support to; to treat in a
  is.                                         haughty or snobbish way, as if deal-
pan•to•mime (pan´tə mım´) n. any
                          ¯                   ing with an inferior. She thought
  dramatic presentation played with-          she was helping me with her ad-
  out words, using only action and            vice, but she patronized me in a
  gestures. Charades is a game in             way that was humiliating.
  which two teams compete to guess          pau•ci•ty (po      ¯)
                                                         ˆ´sə te n. fewness; small
  a word or phrase acted out in pan-          number Lots of people come to the
  tomime.                                     shelter to help with. Thanksgiving
pa•ral•y•sis (pə ral´ə sis) n. partial or     dinner, but there is a paucity of
  complete loss, or temporary inter-          volunteers during the rest of the
  ruption, of a function, especially          year.
  movement or sensation in some             pen•i•tent (pen´i tənt) adj. truly sorry
  part of the body. The pinched nerve         for having done something wrong
  in my neck caused a temporary               and willing to atone; contrite; re-
  paralysis of my right arm.                  pentant. Maria wrote a penitent
pa•ro•dy (par´ə de) n. a literary or
                    ¯                         letter, apologizing for the things
  musical work imitating the charac-          she’d said in anger.
  teristic style of some other work or      pen•i•ten•tia•ry (pen´i ten´shə re n., a
  of a writer or composer in a satiri-        state or federal prison for persons
  cal or humorous way. The creative           convicted of serious crimes.
  writing teacher had her students            Following the jury’s guilty verdict,
  choose a short story and write a            the judge sentenced the defendant
  parody of it.                               to ten years in the state peniten-
par•si•mo•ni•ous (pär´sə mo ¯ əs)
                              ¯´ne            tiary.
  adj. miserly; unreasonably frugal.        per•pet•u•ate (pər pech´oo a vt. to
  Though he earns a good salary,              cause to continue. This year’s
  Bennett is so parsimonious that he          eighth-grade graduates plan to per-
  refuses to tip waiters even when he         petuate the tradition of raising
  receives good service.                      money for a charity.
par•ti•san (pärt´ə zən) n. a person         pes•si•mism (pes´ə miz´əm) n. the
  who takes the part of or strongly           tendency to expect misfortune or
  supports one side, party, or person.        the worst outcome in any circum-
  She is a devoted partisan of the            stances. Carl’s pessimism means
  Republican Party.                           that he is always surprised when
pas•teur•i•za•tion (pas´tər i za´shən)
                                ¯             anything good happens.
  n. a method of destroying disease-        phan•tom (fan´təm) n. something that
  producing bacteria (as in milk, beer,       seems to appear to the sight but has
  or cider) by heating the liquid to a        no physical existence. In the eerie
                                             The Ultimate Word List            97

   dusk, we seemed to see phantoms            and pass them off as one’s own.
   all around us even though we knew          Preston got a D on his paper be-
   we were alone.                             cause the teacher saw that he had
phar•aoh (far´o n. the title of the
                    ¯)                        plagiarized an article he found on
   kings of ancient Egypt, often used         the Internet.
   as a proper name in the Bible.          plain•tive (pla  ¯n´tiv) adj. expressing
   Tutankhamen was one of the                 sorrow; mournful; sad. The plain-
   youngest of the pharaohs; he was           tive music matched my melan-
   only nineteen when he was laid to          choly mood.
   rest in his rich tomb.                  pli•able (plı´ə bəl) adj. easily bent or
phi•lan•thro•py (fə lan´thrə pe n. a
                                ¯)            molded; flexible. Willow is a good
   desire to help human beings, espe-         material for making baskets, be-
   cially as shown by gifts to charita-       cause when it is wet, it is pliable
   ble or humanitarian institutions;          enough to weave.
   benevolence. The millionaire’s          por•tend (po tend´) vt. to be an
   well-known philanthropy earned             omen or warning of. Those thick,
   him a reputation for being a kind          black clouds portend a storm.
   and generous man.                       prag•mat•ic (prag mat´ik) adj. practi-
pi•e•ty (pı´ə te n. devotion to reli-
            ¯     ¯)                          cal; concerned with actual practice
   gious duties and practices; a pious        and everyday affairs, not with the-
   act, statement, or belief. Jane lives      ory. The mayor’s pragmatic solu-
   a quiet life of piety and goes to          tions to the city’s problems some-
   church every day.                          times clash with people’s
pique (pe n. resentment at being
           ¯k)                                emotional attachments.
   slighted. In a fit of pique over        pre•cept (pre  ¯´sept´) n. a command-
   being cut from the basketball team,        ment or direction meant as a rule of
   Jose refused to go to any of the           action or conduct. A precept I try
   games.                                     to live by states that a person
pith•y (pith´e adj. terse and full of
                ¯)                            should treat people in the same
   substance or meaning. The best man         way he or she hopes to be treated.
   finished his speech in a few words      pre•cip•i•tous (pre sip´ə təs) adj.
   with a pithy quote that summed up          steep, as in a steep, vertical cliff.
   all our hopes for the couple.              Looking for a challenge, the avid
pla•cate (pla ¯t´) vt. to stop from
               ¯´ka                           hikers chose a precipitous path up
   being angry. The restaurant owner          the mountain.
   tried to placate the woman who          pre•co•cious (pre ko¯ ¯´shəs) adj. devel-
   had found a nail in her soup by of-        oped or matured to a point beyond
   fering her a free meal.                    that which is normal for the age.
placid (plas´id) adj. undisturbed;            The precocious child wasn’t inter-
   tranquil; calm; quiet. Mary’s placid       ested in baby dolls, building
   temperament allows her to remain           blocks, or any of the other toys
   calm even when there is chaos all          usually attractive to children her
   around her.                                age.
pla•gi•a•rize (pla rız´) vt. to take
                      ¯´jə ¯               pred•a•to•ry (pred´ə to ¯) adj. of, liv-
   (ideas or writings) from (another)         ing by, or characterized by plunder-
 98      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

   ing, robbing, or exploiting others.           great skill; someone who earns a
   The cat revealed its instinct for             living through exercise of a skill.
   predatory behavior by chasing sev-            Christopher, who is the captain of
   eral birds around the yard.                   the high school golf team, plays
pred•e•ces•sor (pred´ə ses´ər) n. a              golf like a professional.
   person who precedes, or comes be-           pro•fi•cient (pro fish´ənt) adj. skilled.
   fore, another. When Justin started            Secretaries must be proficient in
   his job, he found that his predeces-          keyboarding since word processing
   sor had left him a manual of in-              is a large part of their job.
   structions.                                 pro•found (pro fo¯und´) adj. marked
pred•i•lec•tion (pred´ə´lek´shən) n.             by intellectual depth. After all this
   liking; partiality or preference (for).       chatter, I long for a profound con-
   My predilection for rich desserts             versation about things of lasting
   makes it hard for me to lose weight.          importance.
prel•ude (prel´yood) n. preliminary            pro•fu•sion (pro fyoo´zhən) n. rich or
   part; preface; opening, especially to         lavish supply; abundance. The pro-
   a musical work. The soup was an               fusion of food at the company pic-
   elegant prelude to a delicious                nic satisfied us all.
   meal.                                       prog•e•ny (präj´ə ne n. children, de-
pre•sume (pre zoom´) vt. to take for
                ¯                                scendants, or offspring collectively.
   granted; accept as true, lacking              A family tree is a graphic that
   proof to the contrary. Supervisors            shows one couple’s progeny.
   should not presume that their in-           pro•gres•sive (pro gres´iv) adj. con-
   structions are clear; they should             tinuing by successive steps. Her
   check that their employees under-             training helped the downhill skier
   stand them.                                   make progressive improvement in
prev•a•lent (prev´ə lənt) adj. widely ex-        her speed.
   isting. Vast herds of buffalo were          pro•lif•ic (pro lif´ik) adj. producing
   prevalent on the Great Plains until           young freely; turning out many
   they were hunted to near-extinction.          products of the mind. His twenty
pris•tine (pris´te ¯n´) adj. still pure; un-     published novels prove how pro-
   corrupted; unspoiled. No one had              lific a writer he was during his
   been out since the blizzard, and              short life.
   the snow was pristine.                      pro•pi•ti•ate (pro pish´e a vt. to win
                                                                   ¯      ¯ ¯t´)
prod•i•gal (präd´i gəl) adj. exceedingly         or regain the good will of. In order
   or recklessly wasteful. The man was           to propitiate the company man-
   prodigal with his inheritance and             ager, employees arrive at work
   soon spent all of his money.                  early and stay late.
pro•fane (pro fa
               ¯ ¯n´) adj. showing dis-        pro•pri•e•ty (pro prı´ə te n. the
                                                                  ¯ ¯      ¯)
   respect or contempt for sacred                quality of being proper, fitting, or
   things; irreverent. The congregation          suitable. She questioned the propri-
   was shocked by the profane way                ety of wearing a short skirt to
   the old man spoke in church.                  church.
pro•fes•sional (pro fesh´ə nəl) n. a
                      ¯                        pro•sa•ic (pro za
                                                             ¯ ¯´ik) adj. common-
   person who does something with                place, dull and ordinary. Even the
                                              The Ultimate Word List            99

  most exciting occupations have               by the pugnacious tone of her voice
  their prosaic aspects.                       and her clenched fists.
pros•pec•tor (prä´spek´tər) n. a per-       quag•mire (kwag´mır´) n. wet, boggy
  son who explores for valuable gold,          ground, yielding under the foot. The
  minerals, or oil. The gold rush of           hiking trail disappeared in a
  1849 attracted many prospectors              quagmire that stretched ahead of
  who hoped to find the valuable ore           us for at least a mile.
  in California.                            quan•dary (kwän´də re) n. a state of
pro•to•type (pro tıp´) n. the first
                 ¯t´ə ¯                        uncertainty; perplexing situation or
  thing or being of its kind. Engineers        position. I found myself in a
  create a prototype of a new auto-            quandary because I wanted to go
  mobile before they build any that            to the dance, but had already made
  will be sold to the public.                  other plans.
prov•i•dent (präv´ə dənt) adj. provid-      quar•an•tine (kwo           ¯
                                                               ˆr´ən ten) n. restric-
  ing for future needs or events. Some         tion on travel or passage imposed
  provident parents start saving for           to keep contagious diseases or in-
  college when their children are still        sect pests from spreading. During
  quite young.                                 the epidemic, people who had been
pro•vin•cial (pro vin´shəl) adj. coming
                 ¯                             exposed to the disease were placed
  from a province; narrow-minded or            in quarantine to prevent others
  unsophisticated. Peter found living          from being infected.
  in the small town was stifling be-        quer•u•lous (kwer´yoo ləs) adj. full of
  cause people’s attitudes were so             complaint. Ashley keeps repeating
  provincial.                                  in a querulous tone of voice, “I’m
prox•im•i•ty (präks im´ə te n. the
                             ¯)                bored! There’s nothing to do!”
  state or quality of being near. That      quin•tes•sence (kwin tes´əns) n. the
  overwhelmingly unpleasant smell              pure, concentrated essence of any-
  is a sure sign of the proximity of a         thing. In the movie, the princess
  skunk.                                       was the quintessence of beauty
pru•dent (prood´’nt) adj. capable              and grace.
  of exercising sound judgment in           ram•page (ram´pa j) vi. to rush vio-
  practical matters, especially as con-        lently or wildly about. Bears can
  cerns one’s own interests. I need to         rampage through a campsite, de-
  be prudent and make good finan-              stroying tents, coolers, and back-
  cial decisions if I want to save             packs.
  enough money for college.                 ran•cor (ra ´kər) n. a continuing and
psy•chi•a•try (sı kı´ə tre n. the branch
                ¯ ¯       ¯)                   bitter hate or ill will. It is hard to
  of medicine concerned with the               reach a peaceful solution when
  study, treatment, and prevention of          both parties’ hearts are full of ran-
  disorders of the mind. To earn a de-         cor from past insults.
  gree in psychiatry, a person must         ran•som (ran´səm) n. the redeeming
  learn how to recognize and treat             or release of a captive or of seized
  mental disorders.                            property by paying money or com-
pug•na•cious (pug na   ¯´shəs) adj. eager      plying with other demands. The pi-
  and ready to fight. I was frightened         rates demanded a hefty ransom in
100      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

   exchange for the safe return of the          dents fill their papers with redun-
   princess.                                    dant information to impress their
rap•port (ra po n. a close or sym-
                 ˆr´)                           teacher.
   pathetic relationship; agreement;         regi•men (rej´ə mən) n. a regulated
   harmony. The honest salesman has             system of diet or exercise, for ther-
   a good rapport with his loyal cus-           apy or the maintenance or improve-
   tomers.                                      ment of health. To tone their bod-
rat•i•fy (rat´ə f ¯´) vt. to approve or
                  ı                             ies, athletes follow the strict
   confirm. Can you explain the                 regimen demanded by their
   process by which states ratify a             coaches.
   proposed amendment to the U.S.            rel•egate (rel´ə ga vt. to exile or
   Constitution?                                banish (someone) to a specified
rau•cous (ro  ˆ´kəs) adj. loud and              place. Because I don’t know how to
   rowdy. After the soccer game                 work the new cash register, I’ve
   ended, the raucous behavior of the           been relegated to the front door as
   fans resulted in some injuries.              a greeter.
re•cal•ci•trant (ri kal´si trənt) adj. re-   rel•evant (rel´ə vənt) adj. having to
   fusing to obey authority, custom, or         do with the matter at hand. The
   regulation. The library finally              man’s question about when lunch
   caught up with a recalcitrant pa-            will be served was not relevant to
   tron who had hundreds of overdue             the speaker’s lecture about invest-
   books.                                       ing in the stock market.
rec•luse (rek´loos) n. a person who          re•lin•quish (ri li ´kwish) vt. to give
   lives a solitary life, shut away from        up; abandon. During the Great
   the world. I was amazed to see her           Depression, many people had to
   at the party because she had been            relinquish their homes and busi-
   living like a recluse since her son          nesses.
   died.                                     re•morse (ri mo   ˆrs´) n. a deep sense of
rec•om•mend (rek´ə mend´) vt. to                guilt felt over a wrong that one has
   suggest favorably as suited for              done. I felt immediate remorse
   some use, function, or position.             when I realized that my rude com-
   Because I had eaten at this restau-          ment had made her cry.
   rant before, my friend asked me           re•pel (ri pel´) vt. to drive or force
   what dish I would recommend.                 back. Despite the manufacturer’s
rec•tify (rek´tə f ¯´) vt. to put or set
                    ı                           claims, the bug spray doesn’t repel
   right; correct. Be sure to rectify           mosquitoes effectively.
   any errors in your math home-             re•plete (ri plet´) adj. well filled or
   work before turning it in to the             plentifully supplied. The luxurious
   teacher.                                     house is replete with comforts of
redo•lent (red´’l -ənt) adj. smelling           every kind.
   (of ). Long after she had left, the       rep•re•hend (rep´ri hend´) vt. to find
   room was redolent of the woman’s             fault with (something done); cen-
   heavy perfume.                               sure. The supervisor reprehended
re•dun•dant (ri dun´ -dənt) adj. more           three employees for their habitual
   than enough; excessive. Some stu-            lateness.
                                               The Ultimate Word List           101

re•prisal (ri prı´zəl) n. the act or prac-
                 ¯                              claws before she could free herself
   tice of using force, short of war,           from the curtains.
   against another nation to obtain re-      ruf•fi•an (ruf´e ən) n. a brutal, vio-
   dress of grievances. After the war,          lent, lawless person; a tough or
   the victorious nation imposed                hoodlum. The villain in the movie
   harsh taxes as a reprisal against            was a ruffian who liked to cause
   the conquered countries.                     trouble in any way he could.
re•pu•di•ate (ri pyoo´de a vt. to
                           ¯ ¯t´)            ruth•less (rooth´lis) adj. pitiless. The
   refuse to have anything to do with;          match was brutal; the boxers
   disown or cast off publicly. I repu-         fought with ruthless ferocity.
   diated my former friend after she         sage (sa j) n. a very wise person. In
   betrayed my secrets.                         some cultures, people regard older
re•scind (ri sind´) vt. to revoke, re-          people as sages and show great re-
   peal, or cancel (a law or order). My         spect for their wisdom.
   membership at the gym was re-             sal•u•tar•y (sal´yoo ter´e adj. health-
   scinded after I forgot to pay my             ful. Many recent studies have
   monthly fee.                                 shown that a diet rich in fruits
res•o•lu•tion (rez´ə loo´shən) n. a de-         and vegetables is salutary.
   termination; deciding. I have made        sanc•tion (sa k´shən) vt. to authorize
   a resolution to stop teasing my              or permit. The judge sanctioned the
   brother.                                     defendant’s release on $100,000
res•pite (res´pit) n. an interval of tem-       bail.
   porary relief or rest, as from pain,      san•guine (sa ´gwin) adj. cheerful
   work, or duty. By using an ice pack          and confident; optimistic; hopeful.
   and staying off my feet, I enjoy a           Even though the odds are against
   respite from the pain in my knee.            us, our coach remains sanguine
re•ta•li•ate (ri tal´e a vi. to return
                     ¯ ¯t´)                     about our prospects.
   an injury or wrong. The peasants          scoun•drel (skoun´drəl) n. a mean,
   stormed the castle to retaliate              immoral, or wicked person. That
   against the king for his unjust              scoundrel robbed me!
   laws and harsh taxes.                     scru•pu•lous (skroo´pyə ləs) adj. ex-
ret•i•cent (ret´ə sənt) adj. disinclined        tremely careful to do the precisely
   to speak readily. Though she is              right, proper, or correct thing in
   very willing to discuss her career,          every last detail. The chef is
   she is reticent about her private            scrupulous about the cleanliness of
   affairs.                                     her kitchen.
ret•i•nue (ret´’n yoo) n. a body of as-      scru•ti•nize (skroot´’n ¯ z´) vt. to look
   sistants, followers, or servants at-         at very carefully; to examine
   tending a person of rank or impor-           closely. Before I hand in a paper, I
   tance. On the set, the movie star is         scrutinize it for errors in spelling
   surrounded by a retinue of                   and usage.
   makeup artists, hairstylists, and         sec•u•lar (sek´yə lər) adj. not sacred
   costume designers.                           or religious; worldly. Although the
re•tract (ri trakt´) vt. to draw back or        concerts take place in a church, the
   in. The kitten had to retract her            music is secular.
102       How to Build a Super Vocabulary

sed•en•tary (sed´’n ter´e adj. of or
                             ¯)                  som•no•lent (säm´nə lənt) adj. likely
   marked by much sitting about and                 to induce sleep; drowsy. Some med-
   little travel. People with a seden-              ications have a somnolent effect
   tary lifestyle should try to exercise            and shouldn’t be taken when you
   at least half an hour a day.                     are driving.
self-con•fi•dence (self´ kän´fə dəns)            so•no•rous (sə no   ˆr´əs) adj. having or
   n. confidence in oneself and one’s               producing sound, especially sound of
   own abilities. Elaine’s self-confi-              full, deep, or rich quality. Frank was
   dence is evident whenever she                    hired as a radio announcer strictly
   engages in a debate because she is               because of his sonorous voice.
   never at a loss for words.                    spec•i•fy (spes´ə f ¯) vt. to mention, de-
self-re•li•ance (self´ ri lı´əns) n. re-
                           ¯                        scribe, or define in detail. I need
   liance on one’s own judgment or                  you to specify when and where
   abilities. Good parents teach their              you want to meet.
   children to be self-reliant as they           spe•cious (spe  ¯´shəs) adj. seeming to
   grow up.                                         be good, sound, correct, or logical
self-re•straint (self´ ri stra  ¯nt´) n. self-      without really being so. He pre-
   control. Kayla showed remarkable                 sented a specious argument and
   self-restraint when she stopped bit-             lost the case.
   ing her nails.                                spo•rad•ic (spə rad´ik) adj. happen-
sen•ten•tious (sen ten´shəs) adj. ex-               ing from time to time. Fire drills at
   pressing much in few words; given                our school are so sporadic that we
   to moralizing. The letter was full of            are unlikely to remember what to
   sententious preaching.                           do if there is a real fire.
sen•ti•men•tal (sen´tə ment´’l) adj.             spu•ri•ous (spyoor´e əs) adj. not true
   having or showing tender, gentle, or             or genuine; false; counterfeit. Hank
   delicate feelings. My grandfather is             Aaron’s autograph, which Jay had
   so sentimental that he saved the                 prized so highly, turned out to be
   ticket stubs from the first movie he             spurious.
   and my grandmother saw together.              squan•der (skwän´dər) vt. to spend
ser•vile (sur´vəl) adj. humbly yielding             or use wastefully or extravagantly.
   or submissive. Harry considered                  Environmental activists caution
   polishing his brother’s shoes to be              us not to squander water, one of
   a servile task.                                  our most precious resources.
sin•gu•lar (si ´gyə lər) adj. excep-             stag•nant (stag´nənt) adj. without
   tional; unusual. This dinosaur fos-              motion or current; not flowing or
   sil, a singular example of life in               moving. Mosquitoes breed in stag-
   the Jurassic period, is the mu-                  nant water, such as the water that
   seum’s main attraction.                          collects in old tires.
skep•tic (skep´tik) n. a person who ha-          stam•i•na (stam´ə nə) n. endurance;
   bitually doubts, questions, or sus-              resistance to fatigue, illness, or
   pends judgment upon matters gen-                 hardship. It takes a lot of stamina
   erally accepted. Ever a skeptic,                 to keep up with two-year-old twins.
   Victor refused to believe the story           stam•pede (stam pe      ¯d´) n. a sudden,
   as it was told in the newspaper.                 headlong running away of a group
                                               The Ultimate Word List            103

   of frightened animals, especially            to their masters and obey their
   horses or cattle. A stampede is al-          commands.
   ways a danger when a herd of cat-         sub•or•di•nate (sə bo  ˆrd´’n it) adj. in-
   tle is frightened by thunder and             ferior to or placed below another in
   lightning.                                   rank, power, or importance.
stig•ma•tize (stig´mə tız´) vt. to char-
                          ¯                     Because I had no experience
   acterize or mark as disgraceful. It          aboard a sailboat, I was clearly
   doesn’t matter how hard she                  subordinate to those who knew
   works; her co-workers have stig-             what they were doing.
   matized her as lazy.                      sub•tle•ty (sut´’l te n. delicacy; the
stock•ade (stä ka   ¯d´) n. an enclosure,       ability or tendency to make fine dis-
   such as a fort, made with stakes dri-        tinctions. The subtlety of her argu-
   ven into the ground side by side for         ment convinced me to take her
   defense. The pioneers built a stock-         course.
   ade to defend their settlement            suc•cinct (sək si kt´) adj. clearly and
   against enemy raids.                         briefly stated. We tried to make the
strand (strand) n. any one of the               club rules succinct, so that every-
   threads, fibers, or wires that are           body would understand and re-
   twisted together to form a length of         member them.
   string, rope, or cable. A rope is pro-    su•per•ci•li•ous (soo´pər sil´e əs) adj.
   duced by twisting together three or          proud, haughty. She glanced at me
   more strands of natural or syn-              in a supercilious manner that
   thetic fibers.                               made me feel both embarrassed
stri•dent (strıd´’nt) adj. harsh-sound-
                ¯                               and angry.
   ing; shrill; grating. From a block        su•per•fi•cial (soo´pər fish´əl) adj. con-
   away, I could recognize Aunt                 cerned with and understanding only
   Martha’s strident voice as she               the easily apparent and obvious. I
   scolded my cousins.                          think my friend is superficial be-
strife (strıf) n. the act or state of
            ¯                                   cause she says that looks are more
   fighting or quarreling, especially           important than personality.
   bitterly. After years of bitter strife,   su•per•flu•ous (sə pur´floo əs) adj.
   a peace agreement was finally                more than is needed, useful, or
   reached.                                     wanted. The directions taped on
sty•mie (stı´me vt. to hinder or ob-
              ¯ ¯)                              the microwave door make the in-
   struct. When a crossword puzzle              struction manual superfluous.
   has you stymied, do you think it’s        sur•feit (sur´fit) n. too great an
   fair to use a dictionary?                    amount or supply. I miscalculated
suave (swäv) adj. graceful and polite.          and wound up with a surfeit of
   Because the man exhibited confi-             fabric, enough to make two extra
   dence and a suave manner, his                blankets.
   speech was well received.                 sur•rep•ti•tious (sur´əp tish´əs) adj. se-
sub•mis•sive (sub mis´iv) adj. having           cret, stealthy. The teacher was
   or showing a tendency to submit              angry when she discovered the
   without resistance; docile; yielding.        surreptitious notes the students
   Well-trained dogs are submissive             were passing.
104      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

sus•cep•ti•ble (sə sep´tə bəl) adj. eas-        mount to an accusation that the
   ily influenced by or affected with. If       mayor had lied.
   you get a yearly flu shot, you will      te•na•cious (tə na´shəs) adj. persist-
   be less susceptible to illness during        ent; stubborn. Though easygoing in
   the flu season.                              most other ways, Noreen is tena-
swin•dle (swin´dəl) vt. to get money            cious in her opinions regarding
   or property from (another) under             education and taxes.
   false pretenses. The man felt he         ten•ta•tive (ten´tə tiv) adj. not definite
   had been swindled in the card                or final. Our plans to vacation in
   game and demanded that a differ-             Hawaii next summer will be
   ent player deal the cards.                   tentative until we know our
sym•me•try (sim´ə tre n. similarity of
                        ¯)                      schedules.
   form or arrangement on either side.      ten•u•ous (ten´yoo əs) adj. not sub-
   She placed identical lamps on each           stantial; slight; flimsy. The tenuous
   of the two end tables so the living          evidence against the suspect re-
   room would have a pleasing sym-              sulted in the police having to re-
   metry.                                       lease him.
syn•the•sis (sin´thə sis) n. the putting    ter•rain (tə ran´) n. tract of ground;
   together of parts or elements so as          the natural or topographical fea-
   to form a whole. Because three stu-          tures of a tract of ground. To
   dents worked on the project, the re-         strengthen their leg muscles and
   sult was a synthesis of ideas.               improve their endurance, cross-
syn•thetic (sin thet´ik) adj. not real or       country athletes run on rocky
   genuine; artificial. She is so commit-       terrain.
   ted to animal rights that she will       ter•ri•to•ri•al (ter´ə to ¯ əl) adj. of,
   wear only synthetic leather shoes.           belonging to, or claiming and de-
ta•cit (tas´it) adj. not expressed or de-       fending a specific region or district.
   clared openly, but implied or under-         Dogs are usually territorial and
   stood. By keeping silent, the audi-          will growl or bark at strangers or
   ence gave their tacit approval to            even strange dogs.
   the committee’s decision.                thwart (thwo vt. to hinder, ob-
tac•i•turn (tas´ə turn´) adj. almost al-        struct, frustrate, or defeat (a person
   ways silent; not liking to talk.             or plans). My broken finger
   Farmer Hoggett is so taciturn that           thwarted my plans to compete in
   his greatest expression of enthusi-          the tennis tournament on
   asm is to say, “That’ll do.”                 Saturday.
tac•tile (tak´təl) adj. related to the      ti•rade (tı´rad´) n. a long, vehement
                                                        ¯ ¯
   sense of touch; perceptible by               speech, especially one of denuncia-
   touch. Tactile pleasures, such as            tion. When she got to the podium,
   the feeling of fur and silk, are im-         instead of giving the usual compli-
   portant to me.                               mentary speech, the prizewinner
tan•ta•mount (tant´ə mount´) adj.               unleashed a tirade about the un-
   equal or equivalent (to). Although           fairness of the system.
   she did not accuse him directly,         tox•ic (täks´ik) adj. acting as a poi-
   her satirical column was tanta-              son; poisonous. Many household
                                               The Ultimate Word List            105

   cleaners are toxic and should be          tres•pass (tres´pəs) vi. to go on an-
   kept out of the reach of children.            other’s land or property without
tran•scend•ent (tran sen´dənt) adj. sur-         permission. When the neighbor
   passing; excelling; extraord-inary.           caught us in his orchard, he
   People often turn to religion in              threatened to sue if we trespassed
   search of a transcendent experience.          again.
trans•for•ma•tion (trans´fər ma´ ¯           trite (trıt) adj. lacking freshness, orig-
   shən) n. the process of changing.             inality, or novelty. In the poem I am
   Butterflies and frogs have life cy-           writing, I have tried to avoid trite
   cles that involve extraordinary               figures of speech.
   transformations.                          u•biq•ui•tous (yoo bik´wə təs) adj.
trans•fuse (trans fyooz´) vt. to trans-          present everywhere at the same
   fer or transmit by causing to flow.           time. The tall man in the blue suit
   The crowd of spectators was soon              seems to be ubiquitous; I saw him
   transfused with the cheerleaders’             everywhere I went today.
   energy and began joining in the           un•a•bridged (un´ə brijd´) adj. not
   cheers.                                       shortened; complete. Whenever I
trans•gres•sion (trans gresh´ən) n.              listen to a book on audiotape, I
   breach of a law or duty; sin. His             make sure it is the unabridged
   transgression earned the shoplifter           version because I don’t want to
   a hefty fine and a night in jail.             miss anything.
tran•si•ent (tran´shənt) adj. staying        un•wield•y (un we ¯) adj. hard to
   only for a short time. Most of the            manage, handle, or deal with, as be-
   boardinghouse guests are tran-                cause of large size or heaviness, or
   sient people with no permanent                awkward form. She tried to mail a
   ties to the community.                        tuba to her sister but found the
tran•si•to•ry (tran´sə to ¯) adj. tem-
                        ˆr´e                     package unwieldy.
   porary, fleeting. An adrenaline           u•surp (yoo zurp´) vt. to take or as-
   rush causes a transitory feeling of           sume (power, a position, property,
   excitement.                                   or rights) and hold in possession by
treach•er•ous (trech´ər əs) adj. giving          force or without right. The military
   a false appearance of safety or reli-         usurped control of the government
   ability. While the ocean looks calm,          from the elected president.
   its treacherous riptides are ex-          vac•il•late (vas´ə la vi. to sway to
   tremely dangerous.                            and fro; waver. I vacillated for a
trea•son (tre ¯´zən) n. betrayal of one’s        whole day, trying to decide
   country. Benedict Arnold, an                  whether I would research dolphins
   American general, committed trea-             or orcas.
   son by trying to surrender West           vac•u•ous (vak´yoo əs) adj. having or
   Point to the British during the               showing lack of intelligence, inter-
   Revolutionary War.                            est, or thought. His vacuous com-
trep•i•da•tion (trep´ə da ¯´shən) n. fear-       ments show that he has given the
   ful uncertainty or anxiety. My shak-          matter no thought.
   ing hands betrayed my trepidation         ven•er•ate (ven´ər at´) vt. to regard
   as I approached the snake.                    with deep respect and admiration. I
106      How to Build a Super Vocabulary

   venerate my sister for being able to       vol•un•tary (väl´ən ter´e) adj. brought
   manage a successful career as                 about by one’s own free choice.
   a lawyer while also raising four              Because I feel sorry for homeless
   children.                                     animals, I make a voluntary con-
ver•bose (vər bo adj. wordy; long-
                    ¯s´)                         tribution to the local shelter often.
   winded. The tour guide’s verbose           vo•ra•cious (vo ra
                                                              ˆ ¯´shəs) adj. very
   explanation of how the dam was                greedy or eager in some desire or
   built used up almost all the time             pursuit. It is hard to satisfy her vo-
   we had.                                       racious appetite with just one
ves•tige (ves´tij) n. a trace, mark, or          sandwich.
   sign of something that once existed        vul•ner•a•ble (vul´nər ə bəl) adj. that
   but has disappeared. The Mayan                can be wounded or injured; open to
   ruins are vestiges of a civilization          criticism or attack. Houses that are
   that once was great and powerful.             built on the ocean shore are ex-
vice versa (vı´sə vur´sə) adv. With the
                ¯                                tremely vulnerable during a hurri-
   order or relation reversed; con-              cane.
   versely. I’ll help you when you need       whim•si•cal (hwim´zi kəl) adj. arising
   it, and vice versa.                           from caprice; oddly out of the ordi-
vig•i•lance (vij´ə ləns) n. watchful-            nary; fanciful. My boss’s decisions
   ness; state of being alert to danger.         are often whimsical, instead of
   The security guard’s vigilance pre-           based on planning and strategy.
   vented the robbers from entering           wran•gle (ra ´gəl) vi. to argue; dis-
   the bank.                                     pute. I’ve used every defensive ar-
vin•di•cate (vin´də ka vt. to clear
                         ¯t´)                    gument I have and do not want to
   from criticism, blame, guilt, or sus-         wrangle with her anymore.
   picion. New evidence in the trial          writhe (rıth) vi. to make twisting or
   vindicated the defendant; the case            turning movements; squirm. Live
   was dismissed and he was free                 worms on a fishing hook writhe
   to go.                                        and catch the attention of fish.
vin•dic•tive (vin dik´tiv) adj. revenge-      yield (yeld) vt. to give; concede; grant.
   ful in spirit; inclined to seek               The accident was my fault because
   vengeance. Watch out for Adam—                I failed to yield the right of way
   he is vindictive when he loses a              before I turned.
   game.                                      zea•lot (zel´ət) n. a person who has an
vir•u•lent (vir´yoo lənt) adj. ex-               extreme or excessive devotion to a
   tremely poisonous or injurious;               cause; fanatic. Lorene is such a
   deadly. Black widow spider bites              zealot about protecting whales that
   are virulent and cause an immedi-             she talks about nothing else.
   ate, painful reaction.                     ze•nith (ze´nith) n. the highest point;
vol•a•tile (väl´ə təl) adj. likely to shift      peak. He reached the zenith of his
   quickly and unpredictably; unstable;          acting career before he was twelve
   explosive. When I make a mistake,             and has been struggling to get back
   I have to be careful of my boss’s             there ever since.
   volatile temper.
A                                           etymologies, 7, 9, 40
affixes, 20–24                              kinds, 38–39
African words, in English, 12               multiple meanings, treatment of, 42–43
American Indian words, in English, 12       pronunciation guides, 40, 41, 42
antonyms                                    synonyms, 40, 45
   as clues to meaning, 32                  usage notes, 39–42
   in dictionaries, 42                      using to check spelling, 48
appositives, as clues to meaning, 28–29   drawing, as memory aid, 59
Arabic words, in English, 12              Dutch words, in English, 12

B                                         E
base words, 16–17                         editing, 68
  affixes, 20–24                          England, Norman Conquest of, effect on
borrowed words, 11, 12                      language, 12
Boycott, Captain C. C., 10                eponyms, 10–11
Burnside, General Ambrose Everett, 11     etymologies, 7, 9, 17, 40
                                          examples, as clues to meaning, 30
Chinese words, in English, 12             F
clichés, 69–70                            Ferris, George W. G., 10
collective nouns, 62                      flash cards, as memory aids, 59–60
combining forms, 19                       French words, in English, 11, 12
comparisons, as clues to meaning, 30–31
confusing words, 48–51                    G
conjunctions, as clues to meaning, 32     German words, in English, 12
context clues, 27–36                      Gerry, Elbridge, 10
contrasts, as clues to meaning, 32        Greek roots, in English, 17, 18, 19
crossword puzzles, 63
D                                         homographs, 55
Darwin, Charles, 6                        homophones, 53–55
  in dictionaries, 40, 42–43, 73–106      I
  in sentences, 29                        Inuit (Eskimo) words, in English, 12
dictionaries, 37–43, 73–106               Italian words, in English, 12
  antonyms, 42
  citations, 40                           J
  entries, 39–42                          journal, vocabulary, 60–61
108      Index

K                                              dictionary guides, 40, 41, 42, 72
key words, as clues to meaning, 30             homographs, 55
                                               homophones, 53–55
language                                   Q
   changes, 6–7, 8                         qualifiers, 70
   history, 3–13
   origin theories, 4–6                    R
Latin roots, in English, 17, 18, 19        redundancy, avoiding, 67–69
listening, as memory aid, 60               relationships, as clues to meaning, 32
                                           repetition, avoiding, 67
M                                          Roget, Pater Mark, 44
mapping words, 61                          roots, of words, 15–25
Maverick, Samuel, 11                       Russian words, in English, 12
meanings, of words
  changes, 7, 8                            S
  context clues, 27–36                     Scandinavian words, in English, 12
  multiple, 42–43                          slang, 70
  reasoning out, 33–34                     Spanish words, in English, 12
memory tips, 58–60                         speaking, formal, and word choice, 70
mispronunciations, 52–53                   spelling, 48
mnemonics, 58–59                              adding suffixes, 23–24
Montagu, John, fourth earl of Sandwich,       homographs, 55
  11                                          homophones, 53–55
                                           suffixes, 20, 22–24
N                                          synonyms
Norman Conquest of England, effect on         as clues to meaning, 30–31
  language, 12                                in dictionaries, 40, 45
nouns                                         in thesauri, 44–45
  collective, 62                              synonymies, 45
  use as verbs, 8
O                                          thesauri, 44–45
Old Norse words, in English, 12
onomatopoeic words, 5–6                    V
overused words, 69–70                      verbs
                                              formed from nouns, 8
P                                             irregular, 42
Pei, Mario, 6                              visual aids to building vocabulary, 59
plurals, irregular, 54                     vocabulary. See also words
predicate nominatives, as clues to mean-      building, 1–2, 57–64
  ing, 28–29                                  reading and, 63
prefixes, 20–22, 23                           writing and, 65–71
pronunciation                              vocabulary journal, 60–61
  common mistakes, 52–53
                                                                  Index   109

W                                    difficult, tackling, 47–56
word families, 16, 17                eponyms, 10–11
word games, 63                       etymologies, 7, 9, 17
word maps, 61                        homographs, 55
wordiness, 67–69                     homophones, 53–55
words                                lively, 66–67
 affixes, 20–24                      new, 7
 archaic, 7                          overused, 69–70
 base words, 16–17                   qualifiers, 70
 borrowed, 11, 12                    roots, 15–25
 combining forms, 19                 slang, 70
 confusing, 48–51                    vocabulary, 73–106
 context clues to meaning, 27–36   writing
 correct usage, 48                   editing, 68
 definitions, in sentences, 29       vocabulary, 65–71

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